Northwestel service in Yellowknife suffers ‘major disruption’

Last modified: May 9, 2019 at 7:35am

Home internet, cable, and mobile data services provided by Northwestel have been restored after significant disruption on Wednesday evening.

Residents across the city waited patiently to tweet their anger or vent on Facebook as websites and apps loaded slowly, if at all.

Cable service was entirely down for some users, while LTE data was also unusually slow.


Service was eventually restored in the early hours of Thursday, Northwestel said on its website.

“At approximately 8pm local time on May 8, 2019, the fibre line leading into Yellowknife was damaged, leading to a major disruption of telecommunications services to Yellowknife and surrounding areas,” read a company statement. 

“Northwestel technicians responded immediately to perform temporary repairs.

“Northwestel will now investigate the cause of the fibre damage and complete repairs to the fibre line. We will not comment on the nature or cause of the damage while that investigation is ongoing. 

“We apologize to the customers who were impacted by this unfortunate disruption.”


Dozens of residents reported problems beginning shortly after 7pm on Wednesday.

“Internet and TV really bad right now in Yellowknife, no cable and very poor internet connection or none at all,” one customer wrote to the company’s Twitter account.

“Losing cable service in the midst of a game seven sucks,” another customer added.

The news was greeted with disappointment at the local internet radio station, which tends not to do overly well in such circumstances.


Northwestel, which employs around 600 people, currently owns the only fibre-optic lines bringing internet service from the rest of North America to the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

While Northwestel tends to be the first target of ire when internet service is compromised, in the past issues have not always been the company’s fault.

In 2016, when service in Yukon was knocked out for almost seven hours – with some effects also felt in the NWT – the culprit turned out to be a federal contractor inadvertently slicing into Northwestel’s lines.