Severed fiber optic cable disrupts internet, cellular service in Taos

CenturyLink said the disruption, affecting 1,800 internet users and an undetermined number of cellular telephone customers, was attributed to a severed fiber optic line near Eagle Nest.

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Cellular telephone and internet service was restored Thursday afternoon (June 20) after an outage that was first reported Wednesday evening (June 19).

The disruption was attributed to a severed fiber optic line near Eagle Nest, according to CenturyLink.

David Gonzáles with CenturyLink told The Taos News that crews are on the scene to repair the damage.

Gonzáles said the break in the line may have been caused by a rodent chewing through the cable. Officials with the Public Regulation Commission attributed the outage to lightning.

Emergency lines and other "critical circuits" had been rerouted through radio facilities and were still functioning, Gonzáles added.

1,800 internet customers were reported to be affected by the outage, according to the telecommunications company, but it was unclear how many cellular telephone customers were impacted.

State regulators said they were unaware that cellular telephone service had been disrupted in the area.

"If they are back-hauling cell service on these fiber optic lines, that is something we would want to know about," said Arthur Bishop of the Public Regulation Commission.

The PRC requires utilities experiencing large outages to report the outage within 90 minutes. Bishop said this morning that the PRC had not yet received such a report.

Bishop said he had been communicating with CenturyLink representatives based in Arizona, which could cause a delay getting information out.

Emergency services were not affected by the disruption, according to local law enforcement.

The Town of Taos Police Department mobilized several off duty officers to conduct extra patrols and reach out to local businesses.

"This is not a crisis," Town of Taos Police Chief Ken Koch said. "We just have to remember how we lived in the 80's."

Disruptions to internet service shuttered some local businesses, however, and caused headaches for others.

The Taos branch of the New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union was closed Thursday. The lobby of a local US Bank branch was also closed but the drive-through was open. People's Bank reported they were unaffected by the outage.

It was business as usual at the Albertson's on Paseo del Pueblo Sur. The United States Postal Service office inside the store was unable to process debit or credit card transactions this morning, however.

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