BUSINESS

Broken Undersea Telecom Cable: Greenland Seeks Canadian Culprit

03/13/2014 06:27 EDT | Updated 05/13/2014 05:59 EDT
Joe Raedle via Getty Images
ILULISSAT, GREENLAND - JULY 24: The village of Ilulissat is seen near the icebergs that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier on July 24, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. As the sea levels around the globe rise, researchers affilitated with the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and its long-term ramifications. The warmer temperatures that have had an effect on the glaciers in Greenland also have altered the ways in which the local populace farm, fish, hunt and even travel across land. In recent years, sea level rise in places such as Miami Beach has led to increased street flooding and prompted leaders such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to propose a $19.5 billion plan to boost the citys capacity to withstand future extreme weather events by, among other things, devising mechanisms to withstand flooding. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Greenland's largest telecom company has filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Halifax, trying to force Fisheries and Oceans Canada to reveal which fishing trawler damaged its subsea cables.

The cables crisscross the ocean floor so people can make overseas phone calls or surf the web on the other side of the world.

The cables are carefully mapped so vessels can avoid them, but one of Tele Greenland’s cables broke, not once but twice, off the coast of Newfoundland last year.

The company is confident a fishing trawler's gear caused the accidents, knocking out service to its international customers. The underwater cables provide internet and phone service from Denmark to Greenland and Newfoundland and Labrador.

While Fisheries and Oceans Canada tracks the location of fishing vessels in the area, the department is refusing to hand over details that could help identify a culprit.

A Halifax company, International Telecom, repaired one of the cables. It's not involved in the lawsuit, but manager Dan Lundrigan says a broken cable can have big implications.

“You may not see any difference or your cable could be down, internet could be down for hours,” he said. “There's a lot of revenue lost, number one. On these cables you could have 911, you could have telemedicine.”

Tele Greenland did not respond to interview requests.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada hasn’t filed a defence in the case yet and declined to comment.

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