Central Virginia lawmakers share CenturyLink concerns during public hearing

Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 4:40 PM EST
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Dozens of people are calling on the Virginia State Corporation Commission to hold CenturyLink/Lumen accountable for bad business practices.

Those who spoke at the hearing Wednesday, February 23, had the same message: CenturyLink customers in rural areas deal with phone and internet outages far too often, for far too long.

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Chair Donna Price was the first to speak during the virtual hearing.

“Albemarle County staff have tracked scores of service complaints and watched as widespread outages, due to a failing infrastructure, became prolonged widespread outages over and over again, most especially when storms rolled in to our region,” Price said.

Supervisors sent a letter to the commission back on February 10, including hundreds of emails for CenturyLink customers complaining about service issues.

Other rural counties in central Virginia are going through the same thing.

“It has been a very scary thing. We’ve gone sometimes 10 to 14 days without. Some people have gone weeks not having service,” Nelson County Supervisor Jesse Rutherford said, “We have many elderly folks who do not have the ability to make a phone call unless they have this service being provided. Some people having medical devices that may be attached to it, this may be their only form of communication and they may be disabled.”

Buckingham County Supervisor Jordan Miles says he’s been fielding complaints from people in his county every day for months.

“When it rains a significant amount, when snow or other precipitation melts or falls to the ground, massive outages begin. Literally, whole roads and entire neighborhoods will be out for many days,” Miles said. “When an older person has a Life Alert and doesn’t have a dial tone, that device around their neck is useless, as is a laptop to a small business owner, and the same person who has mouths to feed after paying their telephone bill.”

In an email statement to NBC29, CenturyLink/Lumen said:

“Our customers are the reason why we are in business. Last week, we filed documents with the Virginia State Corporation Commission that included commitments to address the quality of voice services, including measures to address copper cables in our network, as well as the use of additional technicians and training to help ensure timely repairs. That filing shows we are committed to ensuring our customers have what they need, when they need it. We know they are counting on us and we’ve been in regular communication with customers and local government officials to address their concerns.”

Supervisor Price says there is a lingering concern regarding what will happen to old copper lines some residents still use, when CenturyLink/Lumen transitions to a new provider, Connect Holdings.

There will be another hearing tomorrow, February 24 at 10 a.m.

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