Phone problems in Lopez Village since May

For more than three months, businesses and residences in the Lopez Village have had to deal with intermittent phone outages. CenturyLink has told the Sounder the problem should be resolved mid-September.

“Around May 19 some of the retail establishments … would see intermittent interruptions with just their phone service,” said Kerry Zimmer, a media representative for CenturyLink. “We were not receiving any alarm on the system whatsoever. If the phone system usually goes out we get an alarm immediately and we know and we send techs to repair … In this instance, we were not seeing any alarms.”

Zimmer said she was unaware of any outages prior to being interviewed by The Sounder. She looked into the situation and found that there has been an ongoing outage in Lopez Village and it is being corrected.

“Between [the outages] and the ferry situation, it has not been a good August for businesses,” said Gallery 10 owner Colleen James. “It’s totally unacceptable; what happens is it affects the businesses in a very adverse way.”

Several businesses in the village have reported outages, including Lopez Village Market, Lopez Center, Lopez Fit, the fire department and Lopez Island Pharmacy. From not receiving calls to being unable to run credit cards, the impact has been felt throughout the village.

“This started as early as May, with scratchy lines… It quickly exacerbated,” said McCoy. “The problem still isn’t resolved. It’s a bad situation.”

McCoy first called CenturyLink when the phones began acting up in May. Since then, he has called CenturyLink several times, keeping detailed records of each contact.

“I made at least two documented trouble tickets when the problem became widespread. Finally, after CenturyLink was unable to give us any idea when the problem would be resolved, we filed a formal complaint with the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission,” wrote McCoy on the pharmacy’s Facebook page.

Lopez Island Fire Department Fire Chief Jim Ghiglione said there haven’t been any emergency calls interrupted by the outage as far as he is aware, but it has caused him to be concerned.

“Most of the islanders – not just Lopezians – we understand that we live in a remote location, but I think this is taking way too long for CenturyLink to resolve the problem,” said Ghiglione. “We’re hoping CenturyLink gets this fixed and gets this fixed soon – before something does occur and someone who does need emergency assistance can’t get through because they can’t make the connection with the landline.”

Zimmer said the company is working on replacing all of the hardware on Lopez, which should be completed by mid-September. However, the cause of the outages is still unknown.

“There was absolutely no rhyme or reason why this was happening,” said Zimmer. “We have invested in all brand new equipment. Everything is there on site and our engineers are now working. All of these services will be on brand new equipment.”