Police are investigating after a satellite dish in Kugluktuk was apparently vandalized earlier this week, leaving the community without cell service or wifi for several days. (Photo by Simon Kuliktana)

Vandals cause lengthy cellphone outage in Kugluktuk

Police investigating damage to one of community’s satellite dishes

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

People in Kugluktuk were left without cell and wifi service for days this week after someone broke into a secured area and damaged a satellite dish in the community.

Parents couldn’t reach their children to find out where they were, people couldn’t check their online banking to see how much money they had in their accounts and in one case, residents couldn’t get hold of a maintenance crew to fix a broken boiler, said Mayor Simon Kuliktana.

“We’re fortunate that it didn’t happen in -35, 40 C,” Kuliktana said in an interview. “If a boiler goes down in -40 C, it’s going to do a lot of damage, [especially if] I’m not able to contact the person on call.”

Community members mostly rely on their cellphones to make calls and access the internet, as only businesses and a few elders still own a landline, he said.

RCMP believe the vandalism occurred Sept. 9, and they were notified of it Sept. 12, said Cpl. Tammy Keller in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

Keller said wires and cables were disconnected, possibly by youth hanging on them.

No charges have been laid and the RCMP is still investigating.

Northwestel spokesperson Catherine Newsome said someone may have gotten in through a small hole in the fencing around the dish.

“Events like this are really unfortunate,” Newsome wrote in an email to Nunatsiaq News. “We are repairing and reinforcing the fence and adding some additional security measures.”

There is some dispute over how long the outage lasted.

Newsome said the damage interrupted cell and government services for a little over two days, while RCMP told Nunatsiaq News the outage lasted three days.

Kuliktana also disputes Northwestel’s timeline, saying the outage lasted more than three days. He said he would expect Bell, which owns Northwestel, to have the resources to repair a problem like this more quickly.

“It made a lot of inconvenience,” he said.


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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by S on

    The mayor wants to blame the victim of this vandalism. Concentrate on the needs of the youth in your community to stop this behaviour that impacts everyone.

    • Posted by Jack on

      Needs of the youth? I assume you’re referring to better parenting, or did you have something else in mind?

    • Posted by Crystal Clarity on

      I don’t think he blamed anyone. He just described the inconvenience it caused.

    • Posted by S on

      Interesting that someone would masquerade as the real “S”.

      Imitation best form of flattery

  2. Posted by George on

    The story forgets to mention that people without landlines (the majority) could not contact the nurse on call, the RCMP or the fire department. That could have caused a major tragedy.

    • Posted by Part of the Deal on

      The story, and you, also seem to forget that every single house with NWTel internet has a functioning landline.

  3. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    And someone in this quiet (sarcasm) little town knows who. But more bitching is done on Facebook, if I criticize parents for not feeding their kids, for not knowing where they are on a school night. God forbid I should criticize the lazy-assed fathers who sit in front of the tv, drugging, and drinking and not taking responsibility for their families.
    It is so sad some days.


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