Provincial and federal governments need to help protect communications infrastructure, according to the head of Canada’s biggest telecom company.
Mirko Bibic, president and CEO of Bell Canada, took to social media late last week to voice his frustrations over recent copper thefts in New Brunswick.
Bell Aliant, the Atlantic subsidiary of Bell Canada, has responded to a slew of copper wire thefts over the last three months, most of which occurred in the Oromocto, Fredericton and Nasonworth areas.
The telecom giant said previously the New Brunswick RCMP is actively investigating the thefts, with police arresting four people in December 2022.
Bibic said Bell has hired extra security guards and installed alarms and cameras near its infrastructure, but believes it’s “not enough.”
He now calls on the provincial and federal governments to take this act of vandalism “more seriously.”
“Bell is asking provincial and federal governments to help us improve the resiliency of Canada’s telecommunications networks,” said Bibic on LinkedIn.
“Governments need to take new, timely action in priority areas such as increased fines and amendments to the criminal code.”
Bibic said more than 60 incidents of vandalism reported by Bell crews in New Brunswick over the past year has impacted network reliability for more than 900 hours.
He added that many thefts, which involve vandals climbing utility poles to cut down copper wires to be sold, cause outages to banks and other businesses, and even federally-regulated spaces like the Fredericton International Airport.
As many as 1,200 Bell Aliant customers in Oromocto experience internet, home phone and TV disruptions due to the thefts, he said.
“We’d like our customers to know that we share their frustrations,” said Bibic.
“These networks require urgent action on the part of government as part of Canada’s critical infrastructure.”
Bibic’s comments align with those made by West District RCMP Cpl. Dan Sharpe in December, underscoring the significant impact the copper wire thefts have on the community.
Sharpe said Mounties are “working diligently” to gather the evidence needed to make these arrests.
“We would also like to encourage anyone who is purchasing salvaged parts or metals to ensure the product has been legally acquired,” he said.