City seeks solution after Fibrant outage Monday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 1, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Fibrant may have lost at least one customer after a prolonged outage Monday.
The city’s new broadband service dropped Internet, cable TV and phone service for about two hours starting at 7 a.m. Monday, affecting about 1,200 customers. While Internet and TV services were restored by 9 a.m., phone service for about 850 customers took longer to bring back up.
Some customers were without a dial tone until noon.
Without phone service, Lazy 5 Vets lost crucial communication with clients, said Scott Julian, practice manager.
“As a business, we have potential and existing clients calling our competitors for service,” Julian said in an email to the Post.
The practice will consider dropping Fibrant, he said.
“Even though it will cost us more money, we will probably be switching back over to a major carrier so that we don’t have to endure something like this again,” Julian said.
Jim Behmer, interim director for Fibrant, apologized for the outage, which likely was caused by a problem with one of Fibrant’s suppliers.
“It was beyond our control,” he said.
The city’s first priority was to restore service, then find out what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again, Behmer said.
Restoring phone service took longer than TV and Internet because Fibrant staffers had to manually reset phone service for about 850 accounts one customer at a time, he said.
A future upgrade should include technology to allow the service to reset itself at the customer’s location, rather than staffers doing it via computer, he said.
Behmer said he suspects Monday’s problem was with the supplier who provides the equipment that allows the network’s brain center, called the headend, to communicate with technology installed at each home. He said he is waiting for confirmation and their plan to prevent the problem in the future.
“What I’m trying to get from them now is how this is not going to happen again,” he said.
Behmer said outages are unusual for Fibrant, which launched in November 2010.
“We apologize to our customers,” he said. “We don’t want to have outages and will continue to improve and work with vendors to fund solutions to prevent future outages.”
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.