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Vandalism and theft to blame for internet, TV and phone outage in Calgary

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A disruption to internet, television and phone services in several north Calgary neighbourhoods is related to vandalism, CTV News has learned.

Service to all 5,000 impacted customers was restored shortly before 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Officials with Rogers/Shaw Communications said the problem was caused by a fibre line being cut during the suspected theft of copper wire.

Calgary police said the reported vandalism of fibreoptic cables took place around 6 a.m. in the 1100 block of Renfrew Drive N.E.

Tuesday's outage marks the second time in 15 days Rogers/Shaw customers were without service for the better part of a day due to suspected copper wire thefts.

On May 6, thousands of customers had service cut -- some of them were the same people impacted by the latest outages.

"I hope this is the last time because we're losing business with this one. Now, with so many people calling, I can't answer, you know, so I'm losing clients as well," said Fadi Bootano, who has a barbershop along 10th Street N.W. that has now had service cut twice this month.

Both outages left several businesses in the Kensington area without service, meaning booking and paying systems were inoperable.

Many businesses had to ask customers to pay with cash or they were turned away.

"It's costly," said Eric Smith, the senior vice-president of the Canadian Telecommunications Association.

"It's costing millions of dollars in terms of, not just the damage, but the repairs. It's requiring service providers to invest more in different technologies and procedures to try to help prevent these types of crimes," he said.

The group has been advocating for the government to take a harder stance against people who are convicted of vandalism of critical infrastructure.

"One of the things that we're asking government to do is to amend the Criminal Code so that the penalties are more serious. Right now, it's the equivalent of, you know, getting charged with stealing a bicycle. And that just does not provide a significant deterrence to people," Smith said. 

In its statement to CTV News, Rogers/Shaw says outages due to vandalism have been "increasing year-over-year at a rapid pace."

"Rogers has experienced four to five times (more) outages due to vandalism since 2022," the company said.

"Outages due to vandalism can also take three to four times longer to repair than any other outage types due to extent of damage and associated repairs."

If you see anyone damaging utility lines, you're asked to call police.

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