Oregon PUC Requires Telecom Providers to Restore Phone Service in Communities Impacted by Wildfires

Posted on November 18, 2020

Oregon Public Utility Commission – 11/18/20 12:34 PM

SALEM, Ore. – At a public meeting held November 17, 2020, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) addressed restoration of voice telephone service by Lumen, the parent company for CenturyLink, United Telephone Company of the Northwest, and Qwest Corporation with service territories in Oregon communities impacted by the recent wildfires. The PUC directed these service providers to offer impacted customers a temporary alternative voice service option by December 1, 2020, and to restore their facilities by January 1, 2021, subject to the PUC’s ongoing oversight.

“Telecommunications service is a necessary utility for Oregonians, and is especially important to those living in more rural areas without a range of communication alternatives,” said Megan Decker, PUC Chair. “Many residents affected by the wildfires have been without phone service for more than two months.  Particularly with winter approaching, this is a safety concern.”

During this public meeting, the PUC directed CenturyLink, United Telephone, and Qwest to do the following:

  • Offer a temporary voice telephone service alternative through available technologies at no additional cost to the customer by December 1, 2020. This is to provide a short-term resolution of comparable voice service until long-term service restoration is complete.
  • Restore voice service with their own facilities and technology by January 1, 2021 to ensure a long-term telecommunications option for residents.
  • Lumen representatives will report back to the PUC on November 23, 2020 to provide an update on offering an alternative telecommunications solution by the December 1, 2020 deadline. Additionally, representatives will regularly report on the progress of the full restoration efforts and their strategies to communicate this information and their timeline to local government officials, first responders in impacted communities, and customers.

“The goal for this meeting was to receive a thorough report from Lumen representatives on the status of the restoration, as well as communicate the urgency of restoring service for families and businesses in these communities that have experienced so much already,” added Decker. “We recognize the challenges in getting service restored, and that the January 1 deadline may be extended by a showing of good cause from Lumen, but we need to know that service providers will be doing everything they can to meet these deadlines to serve their customers.”

During the public meeting, Lumen representatives provided an update on the status of restoring service in the communities served by CenturyLink, United Telephone, and Qwest. To view the recordings of this public meeting, visit: https://oregonpuc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=668 and https://oregonpuc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=669.

Lumen has established a designated phone number for CenturyLink, United Telephone, and Qwest customers.  Call 800-223-9275 to get answers about telephone service restoration and billing.

If you have questions or concerns about your telecommunications or other utility services, please contact the Oregon Public Utility Commission at puc.consumer@state.or.us or 503-378-6600. The PUC also accepts all relay calls.

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The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) regulates customer rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric, natural gas and telephone utilities, as well as select water companies.  The PUC’s mission is to ensure Oregon utility customers have access to safe, reliable, and high quality utility services at just and reasonable rates, which is accomplished through thorough analysis and independent decision-making conducted in an open and fair process.

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