Redundancy needed in communications services

BRATTLEBORO — Regarding your story on the loss of utilities in the recent storm, I noted a similar problem on May 27, 2022 and I wrote to the Public Service Department and our legislators about it.

“Today, southern Vermont suffered what seems to have been about an 18-hour internet outage for Consolidated Communications customers,” I wrote. “There was apparently no public information disbursed about this outage; the recorded message at Consolidated said the same thing all day: that a technical difficulty was being investigated.”

“The outage seems to have been associated with AT&T cell service interruptions and VPR radio transmission interruptions. We were unable to use the internet or our cell phones to find out what was going on. Luckily we have kept our landline. How are all these things tied together?”

It concerns me greatly that in order to take advantage of Consolidated Communications' Fidium fiber internet, customers are required to switch from copper-wire landlines to VOIP (voice over internet) telephone service.

This means that when the internet fails (which will happen during a power failure, unless you have expensive batteries), your home phone will also fail. (For this reason, my household has rejected Fidium fiber.) As we saw in March, when internet service fails, cell service and radio can be affected at the same time.

It seems to me that if our communications platforms are interdependent, we are less resilient when natural disasters strike.

The state of Vermont should require communications companies of all sorts to provide redundancy in their systems so that they can carry on operations in these circumstances. They are essential services and lives depend upon them.

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