Internet Outage Affects Sheriff's OfficeSubmitted: 03/15/2013
Story By Lex Gray

RHINELANDER - Yesterday, you might have had to go without email, Facebook, and even worse -- wjfw.com!

That's because a Frontier Communications fiber optic line was cut.

It happened in Merrill, where a Wisconsin Public Service crew was working.

The outage affected around 8,000 people. For most of us, it was just an annoyance.

But what about vital services, like police, fire and ambulance?

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office normally relies on Frontier.

IT Services Director Lynn Grube says the outage caused a few problems.

Police couldn't communicate with the sheriff's office software. Instead, they had to do manual data entry.

Deputies had to use their radios to talk to dispatch, and dispatch had to run license checks through Lincoln County.

"Inconvenient for sure. But these guys are professionals, they have these procedures in place," Grube said. "So that kind of ensures safety, knowing there's a fall back in place in case there's a malfunction like this."

The outage caused problems for other county departments, too. But Grube says law enforcement had the most trouble.

"Always, because of safety, we want to make sure they have the tools they need to do their job," Grube said. "So they're always our primary concern whenever there's a computer malfunction. So were they impacted the most? I would say yes, because they use a lot of computers in their day-to-day work."

Grube says this is the third internet outage she's experienced in her 23 years with the county.

Service to the sheriff's department went down around 11:30 a.m., and was back up by 6:30 p.m.

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