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PSC reviewing Frontier 911 phone outage complaints

PSC reviewing Frontier 911 phone outage complaints
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 5:47 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - In an emergency, seconds matter, and West Virginia 911 operators said Frontier Communication phone service outages are putting people in danger.

The West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) held a hearing on the issue Friday morning. The case was filed by the West Virginia Enhanced 911 Council and three county 911 centers after repeated outages knocked out their phone service.

When 911 service is not operating, people have to find and call a 10-digit phone number to reach emergency officials, Ohio County 911 Director Theresa Russell said. Dispatchers are not able to access the phone number of a caller, the person’s name or exact location if a call doesn’t come through the 911 system.

“We have been voicing our concerns directly with Frontier for quite a few years now and we have had several outages,” Russell said. “They have been what I would refer to as appeasing at the time. But, there has never been anything really concrete or substantial to show that the issues that we face here have been resolved.”

The case asked the PSC to make Frontier correct the issues causing the outages and create redundancy in the phone system to prevent future outages.

“There is equipment out there that needs to be replaced, that’s probably aged at this time, it needs replacing,” Russell said. “We’ve made an investment into this system, and we are just asking that Frontier reinvests back into the 911 service.”

“The 911 centers have to be working all the time. Otherwise, people’s lives are at risk,” PSC Chairman Charlotte Lane said, describing a 911 outage as “catastrophic.”

Instead of ruling on a solution during the Friday hearing, Lane ordered both sides to sit down in the same room and work on finding a solution to keep 911 service operating. She said the PSC will then review the plan that’s agreed to and approve the changes to fix the issue.

“The parties will come up with suggestions as to what can be done so that there is redundancy and there are back-up plans that actually work, so that is what I am hoping will happen,” Lane said.

It is not clear when the sides will reach an agreement and how long it would take to improve 911 service after the PSC ruling is implemented.

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