Always be prepared

Be prepared.

That was my key takeaway from last week’s release from the Canadian Telecommunications Association, “Internet and Cellphone Preparations and Best Practices for Hurricane and Storm Season”.

Issued in advance of Hurricane Lee hitting the Atlantic provinces, the press announcement pointed to the website <> and brochure, “Preparing for Severe Weather Events & Other Emergencies” [pdf, 553 KB].

Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, wildfires, and snow and ice storms are becoming more commonplace endangering Canadians, damaging property, and posing a risk to critical infrastructure, including telecommunications networks.

Canadian telecommunications providers are continually investing to strengthen their networks to better withstand extreme weather events and other natural disasters. They have also partnered with governments, public safety officials, power companies, and each other to help maintain connectivity when people need it most.

Despite these preparations, power supply, poles and cables, and other equipment can still be impacted, sometimes resulting in temporary service outages. To prepare, there are steps you can take to protect you and your family, including keeping your devices charged.

Sections include:

  1. Monitor Weather and Be Ready for Emergency Alerts
  2. Prepare for Power Outages
  3. Create an Emergency Communications and Critical Information Plan
  4. Preserve Battery Power
  5. Help Reduce Network Congestion
  6. Placing 9-1-1 Calls

This past weekend, when power outages from the storm meant people lost access to residential TV and internet service, many people turned to their mobile devices for connectivity. That added extraordinary load on wireless networks, leading to congestion.

Telecommunications services providers have been investing in improved network resilience and have a mutual support agreement in place to increase continuity in times of emergency including weather related events. Still, communications can be impacted by loss of power, or downed poles, cables, and towers, resulting in reduced network performance or temporary service outages.

Bell Aliant issued a tweet through the weekend explaining the steps being followed to restore service in the wake of storm damage. The storm wrought significant damage to provincial power lines which inevitably impacts telecommunications service continuity. Downed power lines create a hazard for crews trying to access damaged telecom infrastructure. Authorized crews can only work once conditions are safe to do so.

Bell Aliant’s Network Recovery website indicated:

Bell’s network is designed to withstand extreme weather with extra layers of protection like redundancy paths, and network battery and generator backup systems to minimize the risk of disruption if commercial power is lost.

In advance of Hurricane Lee, we have activated our internal emergency response process for 24/7 planning and coordination of our response to the evolving situation. Additional preparations included:

  • Comprehensive network review to ensure stability
  • Fuelling our fleet of generators and vehicles
  • Positioning generators to critical sites that support high-density fibre routes and public safety communications
  • Having crews and resources from other regions on standby to support restoration if needed
  • Communicating with provincial EMOs, premiers’ offices, key federal ministers and other local partners to ensure effective coordination and support
  • Working collaboratively with other network providers, like Eastlink, Telus and Rogers and local power companies

As Canadian Telecommunications Association President and CEO Robert Ghiz said, in advance of storms we need to be prepared. “We are recommending that individuals take the necessary precautions that can help them stay connected when it matters most.”

Be prepared.

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