Neighborhood seeks answers after two week internet outage

Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 7:40 PM EDT
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MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) -A local neighborhood is facing an internet outage, and according to those in the area, this has been an issue for the past two weeks.

WVU professors, healthcare professionals and others need internet access to do their jobs, especially now during the pandemic. Thousands of people are being forced to work from home, but for those within this community, tasks have become more difficult.

Frontier is the only operating service in their area, and residents said this isn't the first time they've experienced an issue.

"When we first moved to this neighborhood, the Frontier service was so bad," Dan Twardus, a resident in the neighborhood said. "It really wasn't until the state attorney general stepped in and said that if Frontier didn't step in and fulfill their contract obligations to customers they would be penalized, they would have to reimburse customers," he said. "It was amazing, within a couple weeks we could actually watch a movie."

Now, they are facing similar challenges and have been seeking help.

"We keep getting the runaround, I get told something, my neighbor gets told something else and often times we're speaking to people who may be in a call center in a different country and they really don't know what's going on in Mon County," another resident, Benyamin Cohen said.

With no answers, those in the area continue to face their own unique challenges. Cohen's wife, Elizabeth, said this outage is making it difficult for her to connect with her students.

"I'm teaching two courses online, and I'm actually going to begin teaching another one next week," she said. As an associate professor in communication studies, Elizabeth needs to be in touch with her students.

For Diana Burns who also lives in the area, she said this outage is affecting more than just her job.

"I have four kids, so I rely a lot on the internet for educational resources and things that help keep them busy so that I can work," she said.

On top of being a mom, Burns works as a purchasing coordinator.

"I remote into a server in another state, so I can't just do it from my laptop, or I can't drive to another hot spot to be able to do that, I need to be able to use my actual computer at home," she said.

With the many issues, residents have tried to find temporary solutions.

"I drove to the McDonald's parking lot last week and sat in my car and tapped into their wifi," Cohen said.

"We've been using, for instance, cell data, but we only have so much of that and that costs a lot of extra money," Elizabeth said.

Even after trying to find new ways to stay connected, it still isn't enough.

"In the context of a pandemic, I think it's really clear why the internet is so necessary," Elizabeth said.

"The state needs to recognize that internet is part of the states infrastructure, like water or electricity and roads," Twardus said.

WDTV reached out to Frontier for a statement. The Vice President of Frontier Communications, Javier Mendoza, stated the following:

“Frontier Communications has responded to service requests from a small number of customers reporting intermittent Internet interruptions in the Morgantown, WV area. Frontier has affirmatively responded, continues to troubleshoot as needed and is working to replace a section of fiber optic cable tomorrow (Thursday) to enhance our network. We regret any inconvenience and thank our customers for their patience.”

With hope that this provides a permanent fix, local customers said they are hoping for better communication in the future when it comes to situations like these.

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