Albemarle Co. questions Lumen on county broadband and telephone issues

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 5:18 PM EST
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The coronavirus pandemic has illustrated the need for expanding access to broadband, especially in rural areas.

For some in Albemarle County, that access hasn’t been reliable, but the Board of Supervisors is trying to fix these issues.

Since May of 2021, the Broadband Accessibility and Affordability Office has heard more than 180 complaints from people who live in the county about broadband and telephone outages from Lumen - the parent company of CenturyLink - customers

“My absolute frustration is with CenturyLink’s lack of responsiveness,” Albemarle Co. resident Nelly Maybee said.

“My complaint with CenturyLink is it seems like they just don’t care,” Albemarle Co. resident Robert Klein said.

Lumen joined the Albemarle Co. Board of Supervisors Wednesday, January 12, to discuss phone and internet service issues. Issues raised included losing out on virtual work, access to school, not being able to participate in county government meetings, and losing access to 9-1-1.

“This problem is so persistent and well known amongst the neighbors that we’ve had to go to the lengths of setting up an emergency system with an air horn for my 90-year-old neighbors to be able to contact us if something goes wrong,” Albemarle Co.y resident Ryan Lewis said.

“We certainly understand that need and we do for a priority of restoring those customers as those events occur,” Trish Stipanovich with Lumen said.

CenturyLink addressed common concerns, including credits for out of service.

“We do support customers receiving credit. However, the systems are not integrated in such a way that it can be facilitated automatically,” Stipanovich said.

A briefing document outlined the county’s options for addressing these issues including monitoring, tracking and escalating service issues, and filing a complaint with the FCC or SCC.

Supervisors questioned Lumen and did not seem satisfied with its presentation.

“You’re giving all the answers that the company wants you to give, but you’re not really giving the answers that the people want to hear,” Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley said.

“Residents are turning to us because they feel your company is not being responsible for your responsibilities,” Supervisor Ned Gallaway said. “You have a massive integrity issue, and I’d like to know how you’re going to solve it.”

Due to time constraints supervisors asked for written responses to their questions.

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