A widespread internet outage left Rio Arriba County government agencies without phone service for several days last week, limited email use for Española city government, and affected multiple communities, officials said.
RediNet, the government-run broadband network that provides internet service to many government agencies and Indigenous communities, said in an email message: “Rio Arriba County, City Of Española, Ohkay Owingeh, Santa Clara Pueblo, Tesuque Pueblo, [and] Pojoaque Pueblo parts of Northern Santa Fe County REDI net customers experience [an] internet outage.”
The Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office was among the county agencies affected. Workers there lost phone service on the evening of Nov. 29 and service was not restored until Dec. 1 at 4:30 p.m., according to Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Lorenzo Aguilar.
“The outage affected our phone lines, which are internet based,” Aguilar said.
Both sheriff’s office operations centers, one in Tierra Amarilla and the other in Española, lost phone service during the outage.
The properties depend on the same internet network, according to the sheriff’s office.
The agency’s dispatch operations, response times and patrol activities were not affected, Aguilar said.
“All other software that uses [the] the sheriff’s office was accessible.”
In a Facebook post on November 30, the Rio Arriba County government said it was without phone service due to an internet outage that started the day before.
“The county remains open to the public and payments are still being accepted,” officials wrote.
RedNet It is an entity jointly run by local and tribal governments: Santa Fe County, Los Alamos County, Rio Arriba County, North Central Economic Development District, city of Española, Pueblo of Pojoaque, Ohkay Owingeh, Santa Clara Pueblo and Pueblo of Tesuque .
The consortium is one of several networks and providers that rural residents rely on for internet service throughout Northern New Mexico.
“All REDI Net customers were affected by the outage,” RediNet officials wrote.
In Española, where city workers lost some email capabilities last week, officials said the outage involved one of the world’s largest internet providers: Cogent. The publicly traded company, based in Washington, DC, serves customers in more than 50 countries.
In an email to customers i EspañolaCogent said “The outage you are currently experiencing in New Mexico is due to an unexpected third-party provider failure of which Cogent had no prior notice.”
“As a result, Cogent had to make arrangements with another third-party provider to provide data center infrastructure.”
Cogent said its field engineering team was at the location of the outage – a location it did not disclose – and that “restoration[d] partial power and connectivity.”
“Currently there is no estimated time for repair,” the company said.
RediNet officials said the outage was caused by “an issue at Cogent’s colocation facility in Albuquerque.”
Cogent, who declined to comment through a spokesman, bills itself as a “A facilities-based provider of low-cost, high-speed Internet access and private network services for bandwidth-intensive businesses,” according to its website.
Ismael Gomez, Española’s IT Manager, said the city government was never without internet during the outage.
“Even though RediNet is our main internet provider, we were not without internet…we have configured a redundant connection that starts automatically when the main connection goes down,” Gomez said. “The only ‘big’ impact we had was email.”
RediNet and Cogent are part of a multi-billion dollar effort by local, state and federal government to build high-speed internet infrastructure and connectivity throughout Northern New Mexico, including the Española Valley and its tribal communities.
2020 analysis by internet speed testing company data crunched from 2,939 US municipalities and determined Española had the second slowest internet speed.
Around 39 percent of it Española households reported not having a broadband internet subscription during the 2020 US Census.