JACKSONVILLE, Ore. —An Applegate woman says she doesn’t have a reliable landline phone. She’s worried in case of an emergency, she won’t be able to get help. The Public Utilities Commission has launched an investigation into her phone company.
Widespread outages, old equipment, and slow responses. Those are some of the local woman’s complaints about CenturyLink.
The ability to call 911 is something many of us take for granted, but for rural Applegate resident Priscilla Weaver, that’s not always the case.
“The phone call would drop off before I could tell 911 that I was having a heart attack,” said Weaver.
Last year, she says households on little Applegate and Yale Creek roads near Jacksonville experienced 10 widespread outages with CenturyLink phone service. She says Wednesday the neighborhood was on day 16 with a malfunctioning landline, with calls going dead or dropping, after just seconds.
“In the time of need CenturyLink our local landline provider will not give us reliable phone service so we can reach 911 in an emergency, they won’t repair their equipment for reliable service every single day,” said Weaver.
Weaver says she’s filed multiple complaints with the Oregon Public Utilities Commission. While the PUC declined an interview on the topic, it confirmed its received a number of comments about CenturyLink’s parent company, Lumen Technologies.
“One of my neighbors was in such severe respiratory distress that there wasn’t even time to have an ambulance come up here, they flew a helicopter here and they medevaced her to Medford that’s how critical it was, the next day 24 hours later our phones went out for 5 days, she would have died if the phones went out one day earlier,” said Weaver.
The PUC told us it opened an investigation in December 2021 into the reliability issues in the Jacksonville-Applegate area. As part of this investigation, the PUC conducted an on-site inspection, identifying ways that Lumen can improve service in the area. The PUC says Lumen has indicated it has used some of the PUC’s recommendations to improve service already.
Weaver says things are not better. “We are completely reliant on the PUC now to give us relief,” she said.
Lumen Technologies says its team works hard to address service issues when they arise as quickly as possible.
It said in a statement,” while we cannot specifically comment on the issues related to your inquiry, as we’re currently working with Oregon’s Public utility commission on them, we can say that we are working on a timeline to roll out a state-of-the-art fiber optic network to replace the existing network in the area. End quote.
The PUC will discuss Lumen again next week. A spokeswoman for the PUC says it could,” modify how Lumen is regulated by the PUC, in response to service quality and other issues.”