Major internet outage caused by switch failure

Most islanders had to go 11 hours with no internet service last week due to a major equipment failure in the GwaiiTel network.

Most islanders had to go 11 hours with no internet service last week due to a major equipment failure in the GwaiiTel network.

With GwaiiTel down, the only way for homes and businesses to get online was through a Telus connection, a data-enabled smartphone, or by satellite.

Carol Kulesha, chair of the non-profit GwaiiTel Society, says the problem started with a master switch on island.

“It’s like a huge router,” she said.

“Everything goes through it.”

At press time, it was still unclear exactly why the switch failed.

Judging by the first of about 50 phone calls from concerned subscribers last Wednesday morning, Jim Pazarena of QCIslands Net said the network likely went down around 10:30 a.m.

It took until 9:30 p.m. before it was was restored.

Kulesha said Teliphone Navigata Westel (TNW) the national telecom company that handles tech support for GwaiiTel had technicians working on island and remotely nearly the entire time.

Together with Pazarena and Jeff Lavoie of Gwaii Communications, they had to survey the entire islands network to find the problem.

Once the problem switch was discovered, it had to be rebooted and reprogrammed from scratch, with some help from the manufacturer.

“We will aim to never have this happen again, as best we can,” said Kulesha.

“It does show how vulnerable we are.”

Haida Gwaii connects to the internet via a microwave radio link between towers in Old Massett and on Mount Hays, near Prince Rupert.