The data, web and TV service outage at Citizens continues

060513internetCitizens Telephone’s Internet and television service is still down for many Floyd County customers on Wednesday morning, leaving people without email, morning news or — in some cases — IP phone service.

On Tuesday night, it often took an hour or more of listening to music on hold before getting someone online to find out the system was down through much of the area and there was no estimate when it would be back.

At 6 a.m. today, a service tech who is from an outsource service answered after more than 20 minutes on hold and said the service techs in the area went home during the night without getting the service back on line for many customers and would return to work on the problem during the day.

When asked what the problem was, the answer was “power fluctuations throughout the area.”

When will it be back online?  Unknown, he said.

So I’m filing this report from a McDonalds in Salem, where the wi-fi is working.  Since part of my living and income comes from the Internet, I have to be online to reach my web hosting servers in San Antonio, Los Angeles and Loudoun County.  Fortunately, no web hosting clients had problems last night and any problems would have had to been solved by using the telephones to contact techs at the data center.  My normal online monitoring systems are down because the county’s only Internet service provider is offline.

Normally, Citizens has a good record with its broadband service and those of us who have lived in other areas can document the many problems with Verizon, AT&T and other services.  But we have become so dependent on online access that outages, though rare, are frustrating in Floyd County.

The problem also demonstrates some holes in Citizens customer support system.  On Wednesday, it often took an hour or more to reach someone of the toll-free support line, which often goes to a voice in an unknown location that is part of the company’s outsourced services.  For awhile, the company had an announcement that service was down but that was taken down and those attempting to reach service had only canned background music as information until one made it through the backlog of calls.

The breakdown also demonstrates the need for a backup service for those of us who depend on online access to make a living.  That is something I may have to look for in the future.  Wireless 4g through Verizon?  Some in Floyd County have gone that route but it has data limitations and can get expensive.

For now, it’s wait and see what caused the problem.

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