Echo Lake residents struggle with internet, phone woes
A telecommunications outage lasting greater than every week proved to be the final straw with CenturyLink for various residents of the Echo Lake space, who say the corporate has served them for years.
Residents of the small neighborhood close to Bigfork noticed Internet and phone service restored final week after a three-week outage, the results of the Nov. 2 winter storm that triggered widespread injury within the area. But the agricultural space skilled issues with phone and web after the winter climate, and lots of who stay there criticized CenturyLink’s customer support, saying there was little communication about when the issues can be fastened.
Resident Mark Suppelsa stated he was already switching to Starlink, a satellite tv for pc web service, when his CenturyLink web went out through the storm. He stated he is been pissed off with web service of their space for a number of years now due to the gradual speeds, which typically make it troublesome to stream video or be a part of a Zoom assembly.
While his Starlink arrived simply earlier than the outage, he worries about neighbors who depend on CenturyLink to achieve the skin world, particularly those that do not have self-service at residence.
“I feel bad for some of my neighbors who don’t have the option for Starlink or another way to get internet because we’re on this stretch of road where we don’t have options, we have CenturyLink or nothing,” Suppelsa stated . “… So their hands are tied, and if they want to sign up for Starlink now, it could take them months, if not a full year to get it. Here they rely on CenturyLink, and it was a ghost company for us.”
He stated he and a neighbor, William Dakin, deliberate to fulfill with a CenturyLink service technician a few week after the storm. The technician ended up not coming, and the missed assembly served as one other blow to their confidence within the firm.
Dakin stated he has repeatedly reached out to CenturyLink to report the outage and attempt to discover out when it is likely to be fastened. He stated he met with customer support representatives who provided little assist, solely checking to verify an outage. When they’d inform Dakin that there was no outage, he would inform them that he and his neighbors had no web or phone service. They will then make some extent to submit a report on it.
Dakin stated he appreciates that, however is dissatisfied by the corporate’s lack of urgency to not solely handle the outage, however to forestall future outages.
“Equipment can fail, we all know that. A competent utility company is constantly investing and hardening its network so that a November snowstorm, which is so known to happen here, will not destroy it,” Dakin stated. “A customer-centric utility informs its customers that they are aware of the problem and are working to restore service and when they expect to be able to restore service – they give their customers some assurance that they are at least trying.”
Judy Ford, one other Echo Lake resident, stated she and her husband, Phillip, are apprehensive about being billed for practically a month of no providers. While Suppelsa stated he has been reimbursed, Ford stated she has not but been capable of get a solution concerning the waiver of their account.
“Of course we lose cash. It prices us cash to be with out our phone and web … As properly as issues we use on the pc that we’re charged for,” stated Ford.
Tracey Conway is the Digital Media Lead for Lumen Technologies, CenturyLink’s mum or dad firm, she stated the agency has been working to handle the problems.
“Services were thought to be restored on November 11, but we have since detected another issue affecting the area’s traffic flow,” Conway stated. “All services should now be functioning properly, and we appreciate the patience shown by customers as we worked through the issue.”
Suppelsa has been rallying its neighbors for the previous two years to discover a method to get higher web service of their rural space. He stated he obtained the help of about 30 individuals in his neighborhood to method CenturyLink and see what it will take to get high-speed fiber put in.
“CenturyLink would bear some of the cost and the homeowners would bear the rest. Somebody else warned me that it could be $5,000 — it doesn’t matter, let’s just get an estimate and see if we can get better service,” Suppelsa stated.
He stated there was preliminary motion on the concept, with CenturyLink promising to come back out and provides them an estimate. According to Suppelsa, this estimate was by no means obtained. When he inquired additional about it, he was advised that there was a brand new individual in command of the undertaking, however he couldn’t get a lot data from them both.
“They basically just ignore us,” Suppelsa stated. “I do know there’s in all probability some massive drawback that triggered this outage, however how about letting us know? I’ve heard from different individuals who have totally different web suppliers which have updates and weekly updates, or each three days, after their stuff went down on November 2nd. And CenturyLink? Nothing. So, I simply do not assume they provide a rattling about us out right here within the rural elements.”
Lumen Global Issues Director Mark Molzen provided a distinct account, saying they started discussions with Suppelsa about this request final fall.
“The person he was talking to hasn’t heard anything from him since early August. When the expected Aid to Construction costs were shared over the phone, as we recall, Mark lost interest. We still have the estimate available and can send it to the HOA if they want to proceed. We apologize for any confusion,” Molzen stated.
Suppelsa maintains that till the Bigfork Eagle reached out to Lumen for touch upon this story, nobody from CenturyLink had reached out to him with a value estimate for the high-speed fiber undertaking.
Other communities in Montana have lengthy struggled with Internet and phone entry, corresponding to Essex. Residents there additionally report that they go weeks with out service. The Montana Public Services Commission (PSC) at its Oct. 25 assembly gave CenturyLink a 45-day ultimatum to resolve nagging rural customer support points within the close to time period whereas the corporate addresses bigger infrastructure issues.
Bigfork Eagle Editor Taylor Inman might be reached at 406-758-4433 or [email protected].