Around Christmas I switched to a new internet/phone/cable provider, Spectrum, only to find out during a power failure that my phone went completely dead: no dial tone. That is because the Spectrum phone system is connected to a modem, not the old-fashioned wall outlet we grew up with. So in an emergency there is no way — other than by cell phone, which where I live is notoriously unreliable — to dial 911 for help.
What to do other than complain to the Public Utilities Commission’s 911 office, which advised they could do nothing because of the “deregulation of phone services” and told me to complain to the FCC, which is about as useful as complaining to the FAA that my flight was 30 minutes late.
Likewise, my state representative and senator opined they were aware of this problem but powerless to do anything about it. Our selectmen in Mount Vernon heard me complain as well.
How many Maine  residents who signed up with Spectrum are aware that this company fails to inform its customers that, given an emergency — or even in a situation not critical to life and limb— the customer has no way to communicate during a power failure, other than to sign up and pay for cell phone service? Not everyone in my orbit owns a cellphone, and not everyone lives in a zone where cellphone reception is good.
With many rural-based residents abandoning landlines, what does the future hold for emergency 911 services for them?

 

Barbara Skapa
Mount Vernon

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