Yukon Telecommunications Outage Highlights Internet and Cell Phone Gaps

WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition has heard safety and economic concerns from Yukoners after a wildfire near Ft. Nelson, B.C. knocked out internet and cell phone service in the Yukon, and many parts of the North on the weekend. Friday night’s outage left many without service for almost 24 hours.

This resulted in a loss of 911 service, and communication between family and friends looking to do wellness checks. Also, businesses were unable to complete transactions, causing many stores to close and preventing some people from being able to purchase groceries and other items.

The Yukon Party wants to ensure what we have heard from Yukoners since the outage is included when the Yukon government and telecommunications providers conduct a review. Notably, cell phones have replaced landlines as the telephone service of choice for many people. Are there technology solutions to prevent cellular service outages in the territory when the fibre line is cut?

Satellite internet users noted the government website, Yukon.ca, was down and unable to provide guidance. How does the government plan to keep Yukon.ca and the emergency measures guidance platforms such as social media operating during future outages?

Many Yukoners tuned into local radio stations for updates. Having a radio on hand is suggested as part of emergency preparedness kits. Will getting information to and mobilizing radio stations to deliver important updates during non-local, and automated broadcast hours be a part of the review?

Some Yukon government departments have switched to Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol, instead of landlines. During the recent outage, many landlines continued to operate within the territory. Will the government review the need for backup communications options such as landlines or satellite phones during emergencies?

As well, 911 services went down requiring EMS hubs to be established. However, this approach leaves gaps in case of some emergencies. Are there technological solutions to improve the resiliency of the Yukon’s 911 system? Will current or future backup communication systems at all fire halls, EMS stations, and health care centres, and any potential cost implications be a part of this review?

“While we commend all emergency responders and Yukon’s Emergency Measures Organization for dealing with a difficult situation, Yukoners want to know what is being done to prevent this from happening again,” said Leader Currie Dixon. “While it is early, Yukon government and telecommunications providers will surely be reviewing the outage and assessing the emergency services gaps that were exposed. After hearing about Yukoners’ experiences, we are requesting that this public input be included as officials conduct their planning to address those gaps.”



Tim Kucharuk
Media Director
(867) 689-7874

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