RFTA excavator hits Comcast cables, service to be back online late this afternoon

Accidental damage to fiber optic cables caused a region-wide outage of most cellular and internet services on Monday morning, though crews are working to repair the damage. Some services are expected to be back online by 1 p.m. with full service back by 3:30-4:30 p.m.

At 7:47 a.m., a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority excavator severed two fiber optic cables (which included 24 and 72 smaller strands of fiber) at 27th Street and Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs, according to Comcast director of external affairs Leslie Oliver. Comcast and its subsidiary Xfinity provide most telecommunications services in the region.

Work on an underpass project resulted in the mistakenly cut fiber.

“As part of the 27th Street Pedestrian Underpass Project, the fiber was cut by our project contractor,” said RFTA communications manager Jamie Tatsuno in an email to The Times. “A utility locate was performed at the site by (U.S. Infrastructure Company), they did not correctly locate the fiber line, so the contracted team was unaware of the line’s existence. Crews are onsite and working to repair the line.”

“At this point – our crews are on site and they are beginning to splice the fiber.  Estimated time of repair is about 3-4 hours.  Customers were recently notified by text message about the outage if they are subscribed to receive the notifications.  They can also check their Xfinity account for updates and to sign up for outage notifications,” Oliver said in an email at 12:23 p.m.

Residential and commercial services from Glenwood Springs to Aspen are affected.

All cellular companies are affected because cell towers connect to the broader network backbone by fiber or copper wiring, which they own or lease from local providers. The local network provider is responsible for the restoration of damaged infrastructure, Oliver said.

The process to fix the damaged fiber involves digging it up and assessing the damage to the cables, then splicers will cut back the cable to good glass to prepare for splicing. A new section of fiber optic cable will be spliced into the existing fiber.