Repairs to a severed fiber optic cable apparently have restored most AT&T telephone and Internet service in north Alabama after outages earlier in the day.
A contractor doing excavation work this morning hit one of AT&T's buried fiber optic cables near Madison, impacting the company's metro ethernet cable serving mostly business customers, said Sue Sperry, an AT&T spokeswoman.
About 1,500 feet of fiber optic cable was damaged and needed replacing, Sperry said.
An alarm went off when the cable was cut, and AT&T began efforts to splice the cable.
Sperry estimated the repair could be finished by 3 p.m., and the first reports of service restoration began about then.
Sperry said AT&T will investigate whether the contractor contacted the Alabama 811 service before digging and whether the location was marked precisely.
The Alabama Super Computer Authority in Montgomery said all of its clients were back up and running, as did Decatur Morgan Hospital.
The cut cable caused outages at Decatur Utilities, Morgan County offices and numerous schools and colleges in north Alabama.
DU telephones were working again late this afternoon and customers no longer needed to call elsewhere with emergency service issues.
None of Morgan County's emergency telephone lines were affected by the outage, but administrative lines to many county offices went down, Chief Deputy Mike Corley said.
Decatur City Hall reported no problems with its phone or Internet service.
Hartselle and Athens city schools reported service was out.
Decatur City Schools telephones remained operational, but the Internet service was slow, said Kathy Rains, technology supervisor for the system.
Ray Jacoby, network support manager with the Alabama Super Computer Authority in Montgomery, said 25 schools systems and colleges in north Alabama that use their network were affected.
Telephones and Internet connections were down at Calhoun Community College campuses in Decatur and Huntsville, spokeswoman Janet Martin said.
Internet at Athens State University also was down.
University of North Alabama student Josh Skaggs said Internet connections were down across the campus in Florence.
Staff writer Ronnie Thomas also contributed to this story.
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