Photo by: chanpipat

Radka Zitkova
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Someone stole McBride’s internet. Literally.

For a McBride pharmacy employee Annaliise Renneld the work was longer, harder and simply more complicated this weekend. Just like the majority of businesses and residents in town, the pharmacy that usually relies on Skype to communicate with their pharmacist in Sorrento, was without Internet.

“Our camera didn’t work, our Internet didn’t work and our debit machine didn’t work,” Renneld explains.

She says instead of scanning the prescriptions she had to fax them to Sorrento, wait for a pharmacist to call her back and OK everything. She found a debit machine that connects to a phone line which meant that customers often had to come back for their medicine later.

The Internet and partial cell phone and landline outage hit almost 300 Telus customers in McBride at 6 pm on Friday. Someone stole a cable splicer enclosure from a telephone pole just north of the town, according to Jim Johannsson, the director of media relations at Telus.

“This is an unusual one,” Johannsson says. “[It’s the] first I’ve heard in a really long time that somebody stole a fiber from a pole.”

He says that the fiber has no value and the theft seems more like a pure vandalism.

“It’s a pretty specialized item,” Johannssson says. “The folks might have not known what it is and maybe thought it had copper in it and had some kind of potential value. But fiber has basically no value at all.”

The McBride RCMP says they were not informed about any theft on the telephone pole outside of the town and the Goat was the fist to bring that up. Constable Nathan Fox says that just like the most of the town they only heard a fibro-optical cable was broken. He was also without Internet and cell phone coverage.

The cell phones affected were mostly devices that work on Telus CMDA network that supports mostly 1G and 2G phones. Phones that operate on 3G such as iPhone, or BlackBerry were mostly not affected as some of them are fed from a different telephone tower, Johannsson says.

McBride councillor Rick Thompson says he was also affected by the outage but not as much as people who have already given up their landlines and rely solely on their cell phones or the younger generation.

“I didn’t know what time it was, no one could text me,” he says. “But my kids, they went nuts – they were like ‘No Facebook? How am I supposed to garden?’” Thompson says and makes fun of the popularity of Facebook applications such as FarmVille.

Daily life was also harder for people who wanted to deposit a paycheque, pay bills, call 911 or just read news online.

Image: chanpipat /