Phone trouble hit 911, hospital, homes

Customers of Frontier Communications were hit with telephone service outages yesterday, Wednesday, January 15 and continue to have trouble today in certain parts of Morgan County.

On Wednesday, Morgan County 911 lost use of several Frontier phone lines due to the service cut. 911 continued to work despite the phone trouble. Sarah Hogbin, spokesperson for Morgan County 911, said all but two redundant lines are working today, Thursday. She said local emergency officials were told two things about the phone outage — that a fiber line was cut in Berkeley County and that there was a bad switch in Frontier’s system in the Augusta area, causing residential customers to lose phone service. Hampshire County’s 911 system was also hit by the service loss on Wednesday. Hogbin said Morgan County’s 911 lines were functional again around 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

One Messenger reader called in on Thursday to report that they had difficulty reaching patients and staff at War Memorial Hospital because the phone system wasn’t working properly. A phone call to the hospital from a non-Frontier phone line went through to the main switchboard. Hospital officials announced just before noon that they were experiencing technical issues with their telephone system but have since said that the issue had been resolved.

Another reader called from his cell phone in Great Cacapon to say he had no phone service on Thursday morning and Frontier internet had slowed to “old modem” speed. Other Frontier internet customers reported a similar slowing of internet speed below the normal Frontier speed.

A Frontier spokesman did not respond to a request for a phone interview about the cause of the service disruption on Thursday morning. In an email, Javier Mendoza of Frontier stated: “The service disruption was caused by damage from a power line fire.”

A different company spokesman supplied a further explanation by email on Thursday afternoon:

“On Wednesday, January 15, Frontier Communications crews responded to repair fiber optic cables in Morgan County, close to Berkley, which were damaged by a fire caused by downed power lines.  Internet and phone service to portions of Morgan and Hampshire County were disrupted during the outage.  At this time, all services have been restored. We thank our customers for their patience.”