Internet outage cripples City

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By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com

A total outage of CP-Tel’s service network brought the City to a screeching halt Monday.

Seamless Gutters

Banks to bakeries and hospitals to homes were affected since all are dependent upon the internet in some form or fashion on a daily basis.

Banking is online; so is shopping, research, communications, weather reports, news and visiting family and friends.

Even this print newspaper relies on the internet for research, information and communication through e-mail, not to mention our website and social media page.

Service was back up for over 75 percent of CP-Tel customers by Tuesday morning. CP-Tel Director of Marketing and Public Relations Stewart Carnline spoke with the Times Tuesday about 3 p.m. He explained the cause for the total outage of their service network that affected not only the internet but telephone and television service as well. “In general, we run a routine generator test every Monday. As we switched back to commercial power it went down. We realized the configuration was lost and we would have to rebuild the network,” Carnline said. The rebuild was from scratch.

CP-Tel technicians and consultants, a team of between throughout the day and night to restore services as quickly as humanly possible. “One guy has been here, on site, since 8 a.m. yesterday,” Carnline said. He said they are working “piece by piece” to get the remaining 25 percent of customer’s service restored. The remaining outages are not confined to any particular area.

The company posted regular updates on their social media page so customers with access through smart phones could check the status of the outage. “We extend our sincerest apologies and are working continuously to get everyone restored,” Carnline said.

Even the Natchitoches Christmas lights were affected by the outage and in danger of not coming on Monday night. Director of Public Works for the City, Charles Brossette, credits utility employee Sherry Edwards with having the bulbs on Monday despite the obstacles. He said they use Blackhawk meters to operate the lights. The meters were originally purchased to cut services off for non-paying customers and cut them back on when needed, but eventually converted their use to operating the light displays. Brossette said when the LED lights came out is when the transition was made.

The meters are accessible via smartphone use by utility personnel to program animation and turn the lights on and off. This saves the City money because the “remote” is a smart phone accessing the meters. An employee doesn’t have to be called out to “flip a switch.” It can be done from any location. “She (Edwards) was on the phone all day with Blackhawk,” Brossette said. Through her diligence, they finally found a way to reroute and have them operational, with only a slight delay from their standard “on” time.

The outage affected other towns and municipalities including the Coushatta, Mansfield and Many areas.

Coincidentally, Cox Communications had similar outages in the Baton Rouge area Monday.

The incidents were not related.