Avista customers lost electrical power and a number of businesses lost Internet service Tuesday morning after a car smashed a utility pole in Otis Orchards.
About 700 homes were without power for more than 90 minutes after the 4:30 a.m. incident at the intersection of Starr Road and Wellesley Avenue.
The longer-lasting impact was on Internet service for more than a dozen business customers of Colorado-based Zayo Enterprises, a fiber network company. Zayo Enterprises manages a large network of fiber-optic cables.
Three routes of fiber-optic lines converge on the power pole that was knocked over, said company spokesman Glenn Russo.
Russo said the fiber lines will be reconnected “by this (Tuesday) evening. The power lines had to be repaired first (before the fiber lines could be fixed),” he said.
Russo could not say exactly how many companies lost Internet service.
Customers have the choice of using Zayo’s “dark fiber” or “lit fiber.” The lit-fiber customers arrange for Zayo to operate the electronics that operate their network. Dark-fiber customers manage that operation of the network on their own and lease fiber from Zayo.
Russo said those “lit” customers whose networks were affected by the pole damage were also most likely to have redundant services that kept them operating using backups. He said “less than five” lit-fiber customers were not using protected services and lost their networks.
He said he had no way of knowing how many dark-fiber customers were impacted. “Since we don’t manage the (dark fiber), they operate their system on their own, apart from us,” Russo said.
The pole struck by the car has phone and power lines used by Avista Utilities. Russo said fiber carriers choose either to use poles or to bury lines under ground. “You end up picking your poison,” he said. Aerial lines are more frequently broken than buried lines. “But they’re also much easier to fix, by nature of being in the open,” he said.