Update: Communications restored following earthquake caused disruption

Update 6:45 a.m. Saturday:

Southeast Alaska telecommunications are being restored following a nearly 24-hour outage Friday caused by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in the region.

Just before midnight, Alaska Communications tweeted that it was restarting cell phone and internet services for its Southeast customers.

AT&T’s LTE cell phone network was restored overnight as well.

Update 6 p.m.:

The internet outage has left many businesses unable to accept credit or debit cards. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)
The internet outage has left many businesses unable to accept credit or debit cards. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Southeast Alaska residents are still experiencing widespread communications problems following an early morning earthquake that shook the region on Friday.

The magnitude 5.9 temblor struck just before 3 a.m., according to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center. It was located about 97 miles west of Juneau at a depth of about six miles. Several aftershocks followed the initial quake.

Cell phone and internet services for AT&T and Alaska Communications customers in Southeast went down after the earthquake hit. An ACS Facebook post Friday morning said the outage was caused by a break in an underwater fiberoptic cable, and estimated repairs would take 2-3 days. However, the post has since been deleted.

Spokeswoman Hannah Blankenship says ACS internet service is down for the entire region, but some customers still have wireless service.

“Our teams are looking at the root cause right now and will provide an update when we have some more information,” Blankenship said Friday morning. “As far as how long we expect to be down, this is our highest priority and we’re working to restore service as quickly as possible.”

AT&T Spokesman Andy Colley says the company is also working to restore service to its customers. AT&T cell phone users in Juneau have been without LTE service since the time of the quake.

Some stores in Juneau have been unable to process credit card payments during the outage. Meanwhile, internet service providers that lease broadband capacity from ACS are also affected. Mike Garrett is Executive Vice President of Alaska Power and Telephone, which has about 3,500 internet customers in Southeast Alaska.

“We have a network that spans from Ketchikan to Skagway. All of the raw transport in our network, totally fine,” Garrett said Friday afternoon. “We interconnect and buy transport to Seattle from ACS in Juneau, and that’s where the problem lies, is outside of Juneau somewhere.”

This isn’t the first time an earthquake has affected broadband infrastructure in Southeast Alaska. A January 2013 quake severed a GCI fiberoptic cable, causing a service outage in Wrangell. At the time, Garrett says GCI used APT’s network to restore service to Wrangell customers until the fiber was repaired, which took about a week.

Update 10:47 a.m.:

An early morning earthquake today is causing widespread communications problems in Southeast Alaska.

Both Alaska Communications and AT&T wireless and internet services were affected.

A recorded message on ACS’s customer services line says the outage is affecting some customers in Southeast.

“This is our highest priority and we are working to restore service as quickly as possible,” the message said.

ACS spokeswoman Hannah Blankenship says crews are still working to determine which networks were affected by the quake.

An AT&T representative could not be reached for comment.

Revised figures from the Alaska Earthquake Information Center put the quake’s magnitude at 5.9. It struck about 97 miles west of Juneau at a depth of about 6 miles. It was followed by several aftershocks. The largest was magnitude 5.7.

Update 9:29 a.m.:

Alaska Communications says the earthquake has caused outages affecting Southeast Alaska wireless and internet services.

In a statement, President and CEO Anand Vadapalli says restoring service quickly is the company’s highest priority.

Original post, 3:19 a.m. Friday:

An earthquake shook Southeast Alaska just before 3 a.m. Friday.

The preliminary magnitude 6.0 temblor was centered about 96 miles west of Juneau, according to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center. It struck at a depth of about 6.2 miles. A 5.7 magnitude aftershock was felt about a minute later. No tsunami was expected, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center.

This is a developing story. Check back for details.

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