State Says FairPoint's Service Delays At Pre-Strike Levels, But Still Too High
FairPoint Communications has rolled back the number of telephone and Internet service delays to where it was before workers went on strike.
But the state says there are still too many delays in repairs and service.
Rich Gershberg is among those who have been waiting for his service to be restored. He doesn’t live in Vermont, but every few weeks he comes up from New York City to spend time at the second home he bought in the town of Jamaica.
"I called on an almost daily basis and pretty much got on to a first name basis with all of the repair operators and supervisors." - Jamaica homeowner Rich Gershberg on waiting for FairPoint repairs
You could argue that phone and Internet service shouldn’t be that important to Gershberg there, but the area has no cell service and he wants to be able to communicate with the outside world when he’s in Vermont.
He hasn’t been able to since December, when his FairPoint service went out.
Despite his status as a part-time resident, Gershberg has been a man on a mission, logging hours on the phone with FairPoint repairs, an experience he describes in one word: frustrating.
“I called on an almost daily basis and pretty much got on to a first name basis with all of the repair operators and supervisors,” he says.
Finally this week, FairPoint told Gershberg his service has been restored. He’s hopeful, but he’ll wait to see for himself.
If it is, he’ll be one of the growing number of people FairPoint has re-connected after long delays.
State Telecommunications Director Jim Porter says that for the first time, the number of repairs that are taking longer than 24 hours to address are down to where they were before the strike by FairPoint workers began in October.
“It’s still not where we’d like for it to be, but things are moving in the right direction,” says Porter.
A chart released by the department illustrates the backlog in telephone and Internet repair and installation orders since the strike. There was a steady climb from October to early December, then the number doubled in a week’s time and stayed high for a month.
Under an agreement with FairPoint, the department does not release actual numbers, but this month Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia told lawmakers that the backlog had reached 1,800 in early January, when it was apparently near its highest point.
Porter says even before the strike the number of service delays was unacceptable.
The recent improvement won’t alter the course of the Public Service Board's investigation of FairPoint’s service problems and its role in an E-911 outage in Nov.