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Lake Connections outage traced to AT&T cell tower

Lake Connections, Verizon and AT&T customers in the Two Harbors area experienced an outage Tuesday morning due to an AT&T cellphone tower trying to transmit too much data. (News-Chronicle file photo)

Lake Connections, Verizon and AT&T customers in the Two Harbors area experienced an outage Tuesday morning due to an issue involving an AT&T cellphone tower between Two Harbors and Duluth.

The outage initially occurred at around 5 a.m. Tuesday morning and staff at Two Harbors-based Lake Connections initially believed the problem was related to an equipment malfunction within its network. After working for several hours with equipment vendors, Verizon and AT&T to isolate the problem, it was revealed that the outage was due to an AT&T tower transmitting too much data across the network disrupting the network between Two Harbors and Duluth, according to Andy Isackson, marketing manager with Lake Connections management company, Consolidated Telecommunications Company in Baxter, Minn.

"Basically, the cellphone tower was trafficking too much data, that AT&T tower," Isackson said. "It was that tower, it wasn't a Lake Connections network issue."

Isackson said cellphone towers need fiber optic access to transmit data coming in wirelessly to the hard network. The AT&T tower in question was trying to transmit a massive amount of data and the transmission clogged the entire network in and around Two Harbors causing outages for Lake Connections customers, as well as Verizon and AT&T cellphone users.

Lake Connections technicians did change out some network cards and other equipment within its own network to see if that solved the problem. While those measures didn't solve this problem, it did allow the technicians to isolate the problem to the cell tower and the data transmission issue.

"We were definitely down and impacted by it," Isackson said. "We started troubleshooting our equipment and then we started learning Verizon customers were having issues and AT&T was having issues. Then it started making the scope a little bigger and that's when we were able to isolate the traffic coming off that tower. Once we did, it took care of the issue."

Service was restored to customers by Tuesday afternoon. As of Wednesday evening, Isackson had not heard from AT&T what caused the massive data surge Tuesday morning, but Lake Connections technicians were continuing to monitor the traffic on the network for any similar surges.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle in August 2015. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and previously worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. He is the beat writer for the Lake County Board of Commissioners, Lake Superior School District board of education and high school sports in Lake County. 

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