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UPDATE: Internet out of service for many in Rhinelander, Lake Tomahawk, and Merrill areas Thursday


RHINELANDER, WI (WSAU) - If you rely on the Internet for your work or home communications, it's a bad day to be in the northwoods. That's because a fiber optic line was cut on the north side of Merrill around midday.

A Wisconsin Public Service crew was digging on the north side of Merrill along DeJinski Road and severed a Frontier Communications fiber optic line.

Frontier’s Karen Miller says service is slowly coming back one fiber optic splice at a time.  "We do have crews out on site, we have actually a double emergency response with two crews and two backhoes, and at this time they are splicing the fibers back together.  We expect full restoral time in about 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Everyone should be restored by 9:00 p.m. Thursday night.  

Miller says the line cut at Merrill has affected thousands of customers in several communities.  "Probably around 8,000 customers are being impacted on the north side of Merrill, also including Eagle River, Tomahawk, Rhinelander, Minoqua and Lac du Flambeau.  The services impacted are basic telephone service, high speed internet, voice mail, and data circuits."

The lack of Internet service has also inconvenienced the Oneida County Sheriff's Department, which is unable to access common services they use for checking wants and warrants or driver's license status during traffic stops. Lincoln County's dispatch center is not affected by the outage.