LOS ALAMOS COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – On Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, Los Alamos experienced a communication blackout. The community between Los Alamos and Santa Fe was left without cell and Internet service after fiber optic lines, owned by Lumen Technology, failed. Many internet providers, such as LA Network, Comcast, and Verizon, all went out since they rely on Lumen Technology to operate.
Lumen crews took over 26 hours to locate and repair the problem areas according to Los Alamos Communication and Public Relations Public Information Officer, Julie Williams-Hill. Throughout that time, information was limited between the public and the county due to the blackout. County Manager, Steven Lynne, sympathized with the public saying, “We understand that individuals were frustrated with the lack of information during the outage.”
Lynne reports that although most communication systems went out, the emergency 9-1-1 phone system remained fully operational since it operates on analog copper lines. Police and fire operations were also unaffected since they operate via radio.
County employees have been revising the communication section of their Emergency Operations Plan following the outage. Williams-Hill expresses, “the main takeaway is the urgent need for additional physical paths that connect into and out of the county.” Los Alamos county is now working to put new failover routes in place in case of another failure. A new microwave antenna has been installed on the Municipal Building roof as another extra security.
Emergency Manager, Beverley Simpson, has developed a way to bypass the phone systems to upload information to the 1610AM emergency radio station. She is also working with the alert vendor CodeRED to help with communication if a similar outage event occurs again.
Recommendations for residents
- Reach out to internet and cell phone providers now to inquire how to receive updates during potential future outages.
- Sign up for the County’s emergency notification system CodeRED. This can be done online at the CODERED webpage or by texting LOSALAMOS to 99411.
- Tune in to the 1610AM radio station during an internet outage. The County plans to broadcast status updates as it receives them from third-party sources.
- Visit county-owned facilities to utilize the public Wi-Fi, if available.
- Use a landline when calling the police non-emergency phone number (505) 662-8222 for information. 9-1-1 is for emergencies only.