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He intends to have new technological and communications procedures implemented to prevent an incident like the December disruption from occurring again. Shaw has entered into an agreement with Bell Canada to share their buried fibre optic line that will run alongside railway lines from Vancouver to Whistler. In addition, more personnel and more trucks for Whistler are in the works.
“With respect to Whistler, which is a new system, we want to do this the Shaw way not the old way,” Bissonnette said. “Internally we’ve made a commitment that we will have someone really engaged and focused on Whistler,” he said, adding that will be accomplished within the next 30 days.
That may not be fast enough for some Shaw customers.
Rogers Chocolates in Village Stroll lost about $1,000 in business in the busy pre-Christmas week when its debit connection was lost as a result of the Internet disruption. Co-owner and Whistler councillor Tim Wake said he has been in contact with Shaw Cable but not received satisfactory results, saying Shaw offered to credit the shop’s account on a pro-rated basis based on its monthly charge.
“My position with them was ‘well, how much credit does Telus give you? Do they only give you the daily rate for the days that are down?’”
Wake said he was also concerned that Shaw made no effort to contact customers during or after the Internet disruption and that no contingency plan was in place.
“If we’re all relying on one fibre optic cable on transmission lines between here and Vancouver there ought to be some sort of back-up plan.”
Wake said he understands repair efforts were complicated, involving coordinating BC Hydro, Telus, and Ministry of Transportation highway crews, but says being without Internet is a major issue for Whistler businesses.
“For all of Whistler to be down with Telus for five days just before Christmas is a big deal and it really didn’t seem like a big deal to Telus,” Wake said.
The councillor said he has saved confusing and vague text and telephone messages from Telus that refer to cell phone but not Internet outages on days that don’t correspond with the actual days of the Internet disruption. When Wake did get through to Telus’s support lines customer service representatives also provided inaccurate information, he said, adding that Telus needs to improve its communications policies.
“Telus was just kind of shrugging their shoulders and saying nothing.”
Charlie Hastie, owner of Whistler Dream Accommodations agrees with Wake. Hastie says there is no way to know how much business his company lost during the disruption but would have appreciated clear information in order to prepare for what at first was thought would be just a minor delay.