By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
High-speed Internet and at least some cell service was lost in parts of the Big Island on Wednesday evening after Hawaiian Telcom experienced technical difficulties.
The service outage, caused by the failure of a device that acts as a relay between circuits, began at 8 p.m. Wednesday and lasted until 7 a.m. Thursday, said Ann Nishida Fry, company spokeswoman.
As a result, high-speed Internet service for some customers between Hilo and Kawaihae was lost and cell phone companies that use Hawaiian Telcom’s network were also impacted, she said.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless both confirmed their East Hawaii networks were down as a result.
Hawaiian Telcom received about 200 calls from Internet customers reporting the outage, she said.
Estimates for the number of customers who lost service weren’t immediately available.
It’s also difficult to estimate how many cell phone users were impacted since that depends on how many were in the geographical area at the time, said Heidi Flato, Verizon Wireless spokeswoman.
“The issue affected a number of cell sites on the east side of the island,” she said.
In a voicemail, AT&T spokeswoman Katelyn O’Riordan said the network was “minimally affected if that.”
Cell phone companies use land lines as part of their infrastructure, Flato said.
“These sort of situations are very rare,” she said.
“We constantly monitor our network. As soon as we get alerts we work closely with those companies to get those services back up as soon as possible.”
Landline phones were not impacted because that service relies on different circuits, Nishida Fry said.
Some cell phone calls may still have gotten calls through on the windward side, she said.
“It depends on where the call is being made and where it is landing,” Nishida Fry said. “Most cell calls will run through the wire line network at some point to terminate.
“If they are close enough for tower-to-tower (service) they may not have been impacted,” she said.
Email Tom Callis at email@example.com.