ACC investigates Frontier Communications 9-1-1 | failures

PHOENIX – A June 2 press release by the Arizona Corporation Commission said ACC Chair Lea Marquez Peterson filed a letter calling on the Commission’s Utilities, Compliance and Enforcement Department to conduct a thorough investigation into Frontier Communications due to multiple downtimes affecting the Arizonans’ ability to contact 911 operators.

This motion was placed on the June 8th ACC agenda for discussion and, by unanimous vote, commissioners launched an investigation into Frontier into the 911 emergencies and the adequacy of its equipment and facilities.

Appeared by phone on behalf of Frontier Senior Vice President Allison Ellis, Regulatory Affairs and an attorney.

On behalf of public safety in the White Mountains, St. Johns Police Chief Lance Spivey and Lt. Alden Whipple, of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office, on the phone.

Ellis was the first to respond to commissioners’ concerns about the 911 issue.

“We understand the issue and see it as critical. We care about our customers and we apologize for the recent problems and the work is already under way, ”she said.

Since redundancy was also an issue, Ellis suggested that redundancy be part of the overall system and network audit that Frontier does.

She said that most of its services are in the countryside and the company is looking for a way to improve the performance of its network and is using a number of different strategies to conduct this review.

Spivey, who has been the St. Johns police chief since 2017, said Frontier’s 911 service has not worked properly at least eight times since he was in office, and police only knew there was an outage when they found they were out of service had.

“The people in this area deserve 911 service,” Spivey said. “You shouldn’t have to worry about 911 not working when we need these services.”

Whipple, who has been a lieutenant for three years and the NCSO for 13 years, told commissioners that there are 180,000 residents between Navajo and Apache counties, and 20,000 to 50,000 more in the summer.

NCSO and ACSO together cover 21,000 square miles. The police and sheriff departments have both the vehicles and equipment to provide the services citizens need.

“In my position dealing with Frontier’s problems,” Whipple said, “I’ve done research and in the past three years 150 ticket items have been submitted to Frontier; that’s 50 per year, one per week or every 10 days, we send a ticket to Frontier for an issue we have with them. This is unacceptable.”

Whipple said there were major outages across northeast Arizona in April and May that year, each lasting several hours.

During these months there were 180,000 citizens who “had no emergency call, no police, no fire brigade and no ambulance service”. said Whipple.

On the redundancy issue, Whipple said he was glad this was brought up as NCSO has the technology and the lack of redundancy prevents officials and staff from getting their jobs done.

“Please take appropriate steps to investigate this,” concluded Whipple.

The June 2 press release said: “Recently collected data shows that Frontier Communications had multiple service outages that prevented Frontier customers from reaching emergency responders when dialing 911 in an emergency. Some outages lasted just over an hour while others lasted almost 35 hours. In total, reports since April 2020 show a total of 19 outages in 11 different communities, which means a total of over 130 hours of downtime for Frontier Communications customers. “

In the same press release, ACC’s Marquez Peterson said, “These failures are outrageous and unacceptable. … They pose a clear risk to public health and safety. The residents of the affected communities deserve much better. The lack of accountability is particularly worrying. We have to get to the bottom of this. “

At the hearing on June 8th, each commissioner was invited to comment on the border issues.

Commissioner Sandra D. Kennedy said she was not surprised at the problem with Frontier and that the Commission should take firm action and “shouldn’t just do something to do it”.

Commissioner Justin Olson made no choice but to thank law enforcement for their participation.

Commissioner Anna Tovar said she would like to see some solutions. “It’s very frustrating. We need to hold the company accountable and prevent any kind of disaster that could happen. “

Commissioner Jim O’Conner told Frontier officials that they had a huge public relations problem based on what the commission hears about critical errors, and that Frontier had a history of delays.

“Your house is burning down. Talk to us, ”said O’Conner.

Frontier’s Ellis replied, “Part of our review is to improve equipment and responses. We hear the concerns and are committed to working with employees and public officials. We are ready to work together as closely as possible. “

Before calling for a vote, Peterson said the issue of 911 failure was urgent, as was the adequacy of Frontier’s equipment and facilities.

According to the ACC, Frontier Communications is a telecommunications and Internet service provider that consists of three separate entities: Frontier Communications of the White Mountains; Citizen Utilities Rural Business; and Navajo Communications Company. Together, the companies provide services to tens of thousands of Arizona residents across the state, particularly in rural areas and communities such as Bullhead City, Lake Havasu City, and Show Low, among others.

The ACC will now press ahead with the investigation.

Comments are closed.