Severed fiber optic cables and equipment failure led to a major loss of phone and Internet service in parts of Goshen and Elkhart Tuesday.
According to Walter Streeter, a senior network engineer for Mapletronics, a high-capacity fiber optic cable was cut at a construction site near Concord High School at approximately 2:45 p.m.
"By my calculations, in the old telephone line world it would be the equivalent of about 32,000 phone lines," Streeter said. "That gives you an idea of the magnitude of what was cut."
He explained there aren’t that many users of the line, only that it has that much capacity.
Repairs to the line were completed between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, but were followed by the failure of a piece of involved equipment. Streeter said he was under the impression that piece was not available locally and had to be brought in from Lafayette. It was installed and service began coming back online at 12:45 p.m.
For Mapletronics, which has thousands of Digital Subscriber Line clients, the outage brought hundreds of phone calls.
"Probably around 2,000 of our clients were affected, and if even 20 percent of those call in, you’re talking 200 to 400 calls," Streeter said.
He said he heard the staff at a large production facility in the area that does just-in-time builds, had to send a large amount of their production work force home because they couldn’t get their orders in.
"You just don’t realize how much people depend on technology," Streeter said. "It tends to be pretty reliable, but if you don’t have a back-up plan, you can end up with problems."
It is not clear how many phone and Internet providers were impacted by the cut line and equipment failure. One Communications sent automated responses Tuesday to customers filing service requests. Also, some Verizon phone and Internet customers were without service Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.