As if Barstow wasn’t isolated enough already….

Yesterday, our internet, phones and even my cell phone went down at work. I am getting a new appreciation for all kinds of things lately…electricity, internet, phones. Read the full story below.

Cut cable downs communications systems in Barstow

February 19, 2008 – 2:52PM

BARSTOW — One small cable running along Route 66 carries a bulk of the telephone calls and electronic data out of Barstow to the rest of the world. On Tuesday morning, that cable, no thicker than a pen, was cut, downing phone calls, Internet connections, credit card transfers and 911 emergency services in Barstow and across the High Desert.

“It’s the main line between Barstow and Victorville,” said Peter Lindberg, a Verizon employee working to fix the cable Tuesday afternoon. “It calls out to the world.”

The Barstow Police Department, Barstow Fire Protection District and Barstow’s sheriff’s and California Highway Patrol stations set up alternate lines to handle emergency calls during the outage. 911 service returned to area agencies around 2 p.m. Tuesday. Sal Corrao, the division chief of the fire protection district, said law enforcement and the fire district began coordinating as soon as the outage happened and there was only a brief time Barstow residences were without a usable emergency line.

Much of the 911 traffic was rerouted on alternate cables by 1 p.m. During that time, the police department received four to six emergency calls . The fire department received no emergency calls during the outage. CHP officer Taj Johnson did not know how many calls were received by the Barstow station during the outage but said that during an average eight-hour shift, an individual officer may responded to 10 to 20 calls.

At about 10:30 Tuesday morning, a public works crew from the city of Barstow sliced a fiber optic cable buried along National Trails Highway near Barstow County Club. The crew was fixing damage to a storm drain sustained during the last storm in the area, said John Rader, spokesman for the city.

“Apparently a backhoe got a little too close to the cable and snagged it,” Rader said. “And that’s what caused the chaos.”

The chaos affected 12,000 customers from the Needles area to Barstow to the Victor Valley area, said Jon Davies, a Verizon spokesman. In Barstow, many residents and businesses were unable to make non-local calls, use cell phones or access the Internet. Customers at local restaurants, stores and gas stations could only pay with cash, as debit and credit card transactions also travel along the cable that was cut. Davies said cell phones, although wireless, eventually rely on cables buried underground to make connections. ATMs and credit card readers also have to make a phone call to make customers pay.

“When you punch in your pin number, the ATM machine dials up the central servers at the bank,” Davies said.

To fix the cable, Verizon employees spliced together a new section of cable. It involved rejoining 24 individual pieces of hair-thin fibers, said Jeff Woodward, a Verizon employee. Once employees isolated the site of the cut, crews responded and worked to fix it. The Barstow public works crew stayed in the area to assist with the repairs, Rader said. Full service was restored to the area at 3:24 p.m.