ACS restores service to Southeast customers

Underwater cable severed by 5.9 earthquake

Cell phone and internet service was restored to Alaska Communications customers in Southeast Alaska early Saturday. Service was interrupted for about 24 hours as a result of a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that shook many Southeast communities early Friday morning.

“We immediately made this our highest priority and worked to restore service as quickly as possible,” ACS communications director Heather Cavanaugh said Saturday morning.

ACS officials said the disruption in service was caused by a severed underwater fiber-optic cable during the earthquake. The earthquake hit around 2:45 a.m. Friday about 50 miles west of Gustavus, and a 4.7 magnitude quake followed at 3:19 a.m., located about 90 miles southwest of Haines.

Cavanaugh said the severed cable has not yet been repaired, and ACS is working with other network carriers to provide service to its customers.

“We continue to monitor our network and work to ensure all customers are up and running,” she said in an email. “We thank our customers for their understanding and patience and our teams who worked throughout the night to restore service as quickly as possible.”

The company could not say on Friday how many people were affected. The company has been posting updates on its website, alaskacommunications.com.

On Friday, AT&T customers spent their mornings on edge — the “Edge” network, that is. AT&T service has since been restored.

According to AT&T Juneau Store Manager Zachary Stephens, the damaged cable hindered its customers’ cell service.

“It’s ACS’s fiber that we use,” Stephens said Friday. “We pay to bring data down to Juneau. We’re working together to get a resolution for it.”

In Gustavus, where the quake hit closest, Mayor Sandi Marchbanks told the Empire there was no structural or secondary damage that she knew of in the town of about 400 residents.

“We just sat here and shook like a bowl full of jelly,” she said.

Glacier Bay Lodge also reported no damages.

The quake did not affect electric utility users, a spokesperson for Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. reported.

AEL&P’s Debbie Driscoll said the company’s website is currently down, which will prevent its customers from paying bills online while the issue is being worked out. In the meantime, Driscoll said, customers can contact AEL&P by phone for assistance. She said the company’s Facebook page and Twitter handle are being used to get information out.

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