State probes cell outage in Burlington during storm

November 5, 2019 GMT

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The state of Vermont is seeking more information about a cellphone outage in the Burlington area during a recent storm.

The Verizon Wireless outage happened between about 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday.

“We are definitely looking into the event, the cause of the event and what exactly happened,” Clay Purvis, director of Vermont Public Service Department’s division of telecommunications and connectivity, said Tuesday. “We’ve been in touch with Verizon and we’re waiting on information and will continue to ask questions.”

The department understands that about 26 cell towers lost connectivity due to a cut to a single fiber cable caused by storm damage, Purvis said.

The department became aware of the outage when state government officials learned that the Burlington Fire Department, which was relying on Verizon Wireless for its own communication, lost connectivity, he said.

“We’re concerned about what caused the outage, how it was handled and what needs to be done to prevent a future occurrence,” said Barbara Neal, executive director of the Vermont Enhanced 911 Board.

In the case of an outage, other available carriers are supposed to send through 911 calls, officials said.

A Verizon spokesman took questions from The Associated Press Tuesday and said he would respond later.