CenturyLink line cut, knocking out phones, internet from Carbondale to Aspen

Staff Report

Echoing an incident more than two years ago, a CenturyLink fiber-optic link was cut Tuesday near Carbondale, knocking out much of the cellphone and internet service from Carbondale to Aspen for several hours.

Service was restored in Carbondale at about 11 p.m., and Pitkin County authorities said service was back shortly after midnight.

A Pitkin County alert early Tuesday afternoon said that some cellular services and land lines at Aspen Valley Hospital were down. The Pitkin County sheriff advised that if the public couldn’t reach 911 during the outage they should go to their local fire station to report emergencies.

Garfield County authorities issued no guidance to residents. Authorities with the 911 service said it was operational, as long as callers could find a working phone to report emergencies. It appeared that the day passed without serious incident

In an email shortly before 3:30 p.m., after service had been out about two hours, CenturyLink said, “Due to a third-party fiber cut, customers in Aspen, Carbondale and Snowmass are experiencing disruptions to their Internet, phone and 911 services. In the event of an emergency, customers should try to reach the local police or fire station using their landline or cellphone and, if unsuccessful, should drive to the nearest fire station or hospital.”

KDNK radio in Carbondale said on its Facebook page that it appeared the source of the outage was a line cut on County Road 109 before Coryell Ranch, about 2 miles north of Carbondale.

KDNK said “radios had been distributed to community facilities, schools, banks, health care centers and City Market to enable emergency calls if necessary. It appears that people who have Comcast home phones have phone service and internet.”

In May 2015, a similar incident caused half of the Roaring Fork Valley lose 911 service for more than 16 hours in May when a contractor cut a CenturyLink fiber-optic line near Ironbridge.

In that instance, it turned out that the backup circuit was routed through the same bundle of cable, the Post Independent learned through an open records request.

CenturyLink told the PI that July that it had installed backup 911 circuits for Carbondale and Basalt.

The company said Tuesday that those backup lines enabled it to reroute calls and 911 disruption was minimal — though many cellphone users were still out of luck.

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