On Saturday November 9, cell service and internet went down for Bell, Telus, Koodo, and Virgin Mobile users, affecting large sections of southern Ontario. According to KawarthaNow, some debit and ATMs were also down. So, what did people affected by the outage do in the meantime? What would others do with no internet or cell service? In addition, while preparing for this story I found that many people I talked to were unaffected, so for some this is meant to inform about events that occurred.
I had the chance to chat with Leina Amatsuji-Berry, who is the Co-Editor of this newspaper. Leina said that she noticed her Koodo cell service was down in the morning before working her other job. For her, that meant she had some peace and quiet away from social media before working, listening to pre-downloaded Spotify playlists on the bus. By the time she looked at her phone after her shift, the service was back up. Leina was surprised at the amount of people at the mobile phone kiosks in the mall, as she had not realized how attached people are to their phones. Overall though, she was ambivalent to the outage, as it was only out for a few hours in the morning. Leina sympathized with people who were waiting for a phone call, and understood why people could find the loss of communication stressful.
As the Arthur office is closed on Saturday, Arthur was also unaffected. However, calls to the office would not have been received if they were sent on Saturday, as the office phone is registered with Bell. I asked what would happen if last weekend’s outage lasted longer, or occurred during the week. By in large, Leina explained that older equipment would need to be found, and reporting on events would become more time-consuming due to the amount of communication and fact-checking required in reporting.
Trent University student Lily Vuong was also affected by the Bell outage for about 45 minutes. One of the biggest problems she experienced was the inability to do research for projects. Lily was able to find out about the outage though her roommate’s mom, who was unaffected. When asked what would have been done if the outage lasted longer, Lily said she would have read a book.
Another Trent student, Liam Doyle, was also affected by the outage. However, not being able to talk to others was not an inconvenience for him, as his phone was rarely used anyways. Liam did notice that debit machines went down at the grocery store, and it was a big topic of conversation at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
I asked two students in the Seasoned Spoon their thoughts on the outage. Andrew Brown was unaffected by the outage because of his attendance at a Waterbirds conference in Maryland. When asked what he would do if there was a larger impact, Andrew’s answer was that he would go to the library and read more books. Olivia Maillet was also unaffected, but said she would also read more books.
Shannon Farmer and I were both going to the same place at the time of the outage, so we had a similar experience.
“Well, in our case, I was going on a nature walk with you all, so I put my phone away and called it that! It didn’t bother me much, as I knew my plan for the day, and went on with business as usual,” she said.
“If I had a paper due, I would have probably done that,” Shannon responded when asked about what she would do in a different situation. “But if I had no obligations I would have probably gone on a walk, or even better, I would have done a hobby, like playing my guitar.”
Hayley Brown was also impacted by the outage. I asked Hayley what she would do if the outage lasted a long time, and she said she would watch DVDs. Or if it was a whole day outage, Hayley would go to the gym, read, or meet with friends, possibly going to the Art Gallery, or on a hike. The potential impacts discussed were having no GPS, having to ask for directions, needing more devices, and having to use a compass, as well as having to use more mental math. During the conversation, Hayley remembered being a kid before cell phones.
When the next outage occurs, going outside and reading books are popular activities. Perhaps we should reflect on the day cell and Internet service went down. If we disconnected more often, we could do the things we say we would if the power was down.