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Cut cable causes issues in region

WORTHINGTON — A cut fiber optic cable near Mankato caused outages Friday to customers in the southwest corner of Minnesota.

According to Frontier Communications Solutions General Manager Todd Van Epps, the outage affected most of the area.

“A good portion of southwest Minnesota is experiencing difficulties in or the inability of making any outgoing or incoming 1+ type long distance calls from various telephone companies in the area,” Van Epps said in a press release Friday afternoon. “This is the result of fiber damage and outage in a fiber optic connection company near Mankato. Frontier has been in contact with that company as they have progressed with their efforts.

“We hope to receive an estimated complete restoration time from them soon. We greatly appreciate your patience and will provide more information as we receive it.”

Late Friday afternoon, Van Epps reported that a flooded fiber optic cable had caused the outages. Regular service was expected be restored by 9 p.m. Friday night.

The outage was affecting phone calls, some cell phone services and some Internet service.

According to Walmart store manager Jeff Fouch, the outages hadn’t affected business.

“The only problem that we have had here is just calling out on our phones,” he said. “As far as our systems and check-out systems, everything has been fine.”

Hy-Vee reported the same situation.

“We can’t make any long-distance calls,” said Brian Olson, Hy-Vee manager of store operations. “We’ve been able to use our cell phones to call out. I’ve had a couple people use cell phones to call if we need to. We haven’t had any problems with them.”

Other machines that use Frontier were affected. One of those was the ATM at the Bank of the West.

“I haven’t verified who it’s been affecting, but I know it’s been affecting every single branch with Bank of the West in southwest Minnesota,” said Ethan Bates, branch manager at Bank of the West. “All the six locations in southwest Minnesota are having issues with communication with the server. It’s pretty much cutting off all communication that way.”

At the bank, customers were still able to make transactions, but had to go inside the bank to do it.

“Most customers, when they come in and see it’s not working will walk right into the lobby,” Bates said. “We have processes in place to deal with these types of things. We essentially can work offline and of course, use good judgement and try to be careful with each transaction. We can’t verify as much information as we normally can, so it does restrict some of the transactions we can do. When I say restrict, it might be the amounts of money we can cash and those types of things.”

The bank, however, didn’t experience any interruption of service.

“The process, for the most part, is fairly seamless,” Bates said. “It does slow the transactions down a little bit, but we’re able to process transactions, deposits, withdrawals, check cashing. What helps is if customers bring in their account numbers with them because we can’t do an account search on the system.”

Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.