City, county hit with widespread phone, internet outage

Published 11:52 am Friday, September 1, 2017

Residents of Franklin and Southampton County were without phone or internet service for most of the day on Wednesday due to a lengthy, widespread service outage affecting Charter/Spectrum customers.
Residents and business owners say the outage began sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. Wednesday morning and was still in effect as of late that evening. The outage affected Franklin, Newsoms, Courtland and Sedley, but spared the towns of Ivor and Windsor.
“We apologize for the service interruption affecting some of our customers in the Franklin area,” said Scott Pryzwansky, Charter’s director of communications for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, via email at approximately 8:16 p.m. Wednesday. “We have engaged all appropriate resources to correct the issue and restore services as quickly as possible.”
On Thursday, Pryzwansky released the following statement explaining the outage, “Most Franklin area customers — not all — were affected when we encountered a problem during overnight maintenance. We worked to restore services as quickly as possible for those who were affected and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.”
Internet and phones were working again by Thursday morning, but Pryzwansky was unable to specify exactly when service was restored because not all accounts were restored at the same time. He was also unable to provide an exact figure for how many customers were affected, describing the outage as intermittent.
Some business owners were able to get partial explanations from Charter on Wednesday when calling about their accounts. Employees of Burgess and Co. in downtown Franklin said Charter had told them that a cut cable was responsible for the outage.
An employee of the Charter office in downtown Franklin said that he had heard from Charter’s corporate office that the outage was the result of a storm on Tuesday night going into Wednesday, which had caused an issue with Charter’s local substation. But he did not know any additional details and had not heard anything about a cut cable.
Employees of small retail businesses and restaurants, including Don Pancho’s Mexican Cantina and Ace Hardware, both located on Armory Drive, said their operations were particularly affected, as they could not process credit card transactions. Both businesses were taking customers’ credit card information offline and planned to upload the transactions once service was restored.
“It really affects small businesses; a lot of people don’t carry cash anymore,” said Chris Jernigan, owner of the Butcher Block in Boykins.
Hibbit Sports posted signs on its doors telling customer only cash could be used. Assistant manager Tasha Hedgepeth said that afternoon she discovered the situation on arriving to work that morning. “That’s a whole lot of folks that we can’t serve because they can’t use their cards,” she said.
Nearby, the El Ranchero restaurant was serving customers, but the TV wasn’t receiving stations. On the opposite end, though women’s clothing boutique Cato had been operating without incident.
The town of Courtland appeared to be somewhat less affected than nearby communities, with service being restored to the Walter Cecil Rawls Library around 9:45 a.m. An employee of Edwards Hardware said that service had been “on and off” and “spotty” for most of the day.
Residents and businesses with internet service through Verizon appeared to be unaffected.
Pryzwansky said that Charter plans to work with customers individually to potentially offer credits on their next Charter bills if they lost service for an extended period of time.