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Massive storms caused WIND Mobile extensive outage in multiple Canadian cities

Wind Mobile extensive outage in multiple Canadian cities
Wind Mobile extensive outage in multiple Canadian cities
Screen capture by Kempton Lam

As Canada's WIND Mobile is close to breaking even, its customers in multiple cities across Canada experienced extensive outage starting around yesterday June 17th Tuesday afternoon because of "severe and massive storms across Southern Ontario that caused power failures, transmission disruption on a wide scale" according to a WIND Mobile spokesperson (more details on this later). As the outage hit WIND Mobile customers, many took to the social media platform Tweeter to complain about network outage in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and other cities. And the customers' complains are still going on June 18th Wednesday morning where one WIND customer in Brampton on Tweeter is reporting outage in "Mississauga, Brampton and Oakville".

In December 2009, this reporter was one of the few journalists that reported in-person on Wind Mobile's Calgary launch and video interviewed then Wind CEO Ken Campbell and CCO Chris Robbins. This reporter has also been a WIND customer in Calgary weeks after its network launch so this reporter writes as not only an independent journalist but also as a long time WIND customer who knows the strength and weakness of WIND with in-depth experiences.

For the years that this reporter has been a WIND customer, this outage is the first WIND multiple cities outages that comes to mind. Newcomers' customers seem to have learned that "minor" problems (in terms of weaker network coverage) are to be "expected". At the same time, "major" network and multiple cities outages are not "expected" even by "forgiving" customers if the newcomers want to keep their customers.

At press time, it is also disappointing to see that approximately 17 hours after the beginning of network outage, there has only been two Wind Mobile public updates via Tweeter for customers:

"Areas across the network are experiencing temp. outages. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working toward regaining full coverage." about 15 hours old

"Service areas across the network are currently in the process of being fully restored. We thank you kindly for your continued patience." about 12 hours old

These two updates, with no specific information, WIND customers have been forced to rely on each others via public social media (e.g. a search of @windmobile on twitter for others' complains) to see what cities have outages, whether these outages are still on going and for how long.

In reply to questions of What happened? And what is WIND doing to mitigate risk of network outage like Tuesday? , a WIND Mobile spokesperson replied,

There were severe and massive storms across Southern Ontario that caused power failures, transmission disruption on a wide scale, introducing heavy loads on our network as it recovered. We also experienced two Fiber cuts from Ontario to the Western Region. Our teams engaged in recovery efforts deploying generators, working on Fiber cuts and managing the storm related network loads. Through the various strategies the network began normalizing late evening and as loads decreased normal service resumed across all markets.

While customers can imagine damages from "severe and massive storms", it also lead to questions of whether there are too many critical points of failures where problems in Southern Ontario can cause total failures in Alberta and B.C. Do more established incumbent telcos have more redundant systems in the provinces such that problems in Ontario are localized so services in other provinces will not be affected.

Followup questions have been sent to WIND Mobile to ask for clarification re the "two Fiber cuts". What caused the "two Fiber cuts"? Were they resulted from construction accidents (a bad dig) or from the storms because of uprooted tress, etc?

The following are updates provided by WIND Mobile spokesperson:

"These Fiber cuts are on our carriers network and we lease facilities from them. There is no ETR yet. A section of tracks, 120 feet long and 25 feet wide, was washed out between Longlac and Beardmore (NE of Thunder Bay). The tracks have to be rebuilt before cable splicing can begin.

Currently the Fiber cut is not impacting us since we have alternate path. We are still assessing if the Fiber outage exasperated are issues last night however no definitive answer yet."