By Vivian Moreau
Telecommunications giant Telus is asking small and medium-sized Whistler businesses for input into its response plan in the wake of last month’s loss of Internet service.
Telus said customers who lost high-speed Internet service for five days after a Dec. 14 storm downed a fibre optic line about 20 km north of Squamish are encouraged to contact a Whistler-based client services manager to discuss their concerns.
“We’re working with our small business service organization to gather information on customer impacts to come up with a recovery response to those impacts,” said Maureen Daschuk, Telus’s general manager of customer solutions delivery. Telus’s client services manager in Whistler, Linda Godin, can be reached at 604-932-2036 to discuss business owners’ concerns.
In addition, the telecommunications company is looking at two alternate contingency routes that would provide back-up service should another incident occur like the mid-December outage that left almost 3,000 Whistler businesses and residents without high-speed Internet service.
Internet connection was restored Dec. 19 at the site of the downed line beside Highway 99 and Culliton Creek bridge after crews spliced the severed fibre optic line together. Telus apologized for the disruption, saying it was “an unprecedented kind of outage.”
But that hasn’t been enough for some Whistler businesses. Prior Snowboards in Function Junction has switched providers, from Shaw Cable to a local Internet provider. Shaw Cable had been using Telus’s fibre optic line to provide Internet service from Vancouver to Whistler and their service was also affected as a result of the severed line.
Owner Dean Thompson said Internet service “has been cruising along very efficiently” since switching providers and he hasn’t been impressed with Shaw’s silence about the outage.
“The only thing we got from Shaw, rather than an apology, was a statement telling us we owed them some money.”
Shaw Cable’s president said he agrees with Whistler’s concerns. Peter Bissonnette said as president he is supposed to receive immediate notification of every Shaw outage and he didn’t hear about the Whistler outage until several days into the incident. When he did find out he arranged for regular information spots about the outage to be run on its cable television station but Bissonnette admits the company has some work to do to win back customer confidence.
“We’ve just acquired that cable system and our objective in acquiring the cable system was to improve significantly communication and levels of customer service… but now it’s our turn to demonstrate that in fact there is a real benefit,” Bissonnette said from his Alberta office.