Officials address telephone and internet outages in Kentucky

April 6, 2019

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Several state and local elected officials from northeastern Kentucky met with Windstream executives recently to discuss ongoing problems with telephone and internet outages, including recent major disruptions to 911 services in the area, according to a news release from the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.

Three major regional disruptions in 911 services during the past year prompted Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, and other elected officials to request the meeting with Windstream. According to an April 2 report from The Daily Independent in Ashland, a string of copper thefts has caused phone service outages in the Meads, Summit, Cannonsburg, Ashland, Greenup and Grayson areas.

In attendance from Windstream were Director of Operations Tim Williamson, Kentucky President of Operations and Engineering Phillip E. McAbee, Vice President of Governmental Affairs Jeanne Sheare and Russ Woodward of Capital Link Consultants, representing Windstream. State Reps. Terri Branham Clark, D-Ashland, Kathy Hinkle, D-Louisa, and Danny Bentley, R-Russell, were also at the meeting.

Officials cited improvements, including the addition of more service technicians to the region and an increased focus on customer service since a similar meeting a year ago, but noted problems concerning Windstream still exist.

Windstream executives assured the elected officials that the company’s bankruptcy status would not affect day-to-day operations or inhibit investment in the region. The 911 service was priority one with Windstream; therefore, aging infrastructure repairs and routing improvements were made in response. The updated personnel information includes the addition of more service technicians to the region and an increased focus on customer service that came from a meeting a year ago.

The Kentucky Legislature has dealt with cable theft issues by implementing safeguards in the sale and recycling of cable. West Virginia law is more lax than Kentucky law and presents a market for the stolen cable. Webb told the company that state and local officials would work with Kentucky neighbors to alleviate the problem.

Windstream has a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of cable thieves that disrupt service, which cause public safety issues and are costly to consumers.

Windstream representatives called on the legislators to address the need for increased funding for universal service and a safeguard against the ongoing problem of cable theft.