It’s times like these that us hams prepare for! A major Bell outage caused widespread “no service” messages on Bell and Telus cellular phones across Atlantic Canada last week, and affected other services, resulting in closed banks, flight delays, and more. 911 service was not directly affected, but those who were left without a cellular or landline had no way to call out – including 911.

While rare, these types of service outages are even more problematic these days with our increasing reliance on cellular phones as a means of communication. Many amateur radio operators are calling the event a “wake-up call” to be more prepared for emergency situations. Bell described this event as “extraordinary” and said that 2 major fiber links were cut by 3rd party construction. The fact that this could bring nearly half the country to its knees in terms of communications certainly raises some red flags.

While the hobby of amateur radio isn’t solely for emergency purposes (there’s some fun involved as well!), emergency preparedness is certainly something that we train and plan for. As SONRA president Andrew Green told CBC, we were standing by and monitoring the situation, ready to help if necessary. Amateur radio clubs in PEI and Nova Scotia got some great press as well.

It’s great to know a ham radio operator in your neighborhood who can connect you with emergency communications and relay messages in these types of situations. You can also find many of us by looking for license plates that start with “VO1” as these vehicles generally have amateur radio equipment on board. Finally, you may even consider becoming a licensed ham radio operator yourself! SONRA generally offers annual ham radio classes to teach you everything you need to know.


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