Georgetown County community frustrated by ongoing phone, internet outage

Updated: Oct. 29, 2019 at 4:39 PM EDT
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GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - People who live in a rural part of Georgetown County say they have gone nearly a month without landline phone or internet service.

Residents of the Saint Luke and Rose Hill community say the service provider, Frontier Communications, is aware of the issue, but say they have not fixed the problem.

Several people came out to the St. Luke Senior Citizens Center Tuesday to voice their concerns.

They're relying solely on their cell phones for phone calls. They say it's a big issue because cell phone service is poor and often times they can't make a call, it's hard to hear or the call drops.

They say this week starts their fourth week without access to their landline phones.

Resident Jimmy Young had to call 911 on Sunday for a medical emergency he was delayed getting through on his cell phone.

“I especially need 911, I’m a heart patient, I’m a cancer patient,” Young said “My wife was at church and I was at home alone and my blood pressure went way down, too low, and I got weak, about to pass out. And it took me actually 15 minutes. It was a while before I could get anybody.”

Young said he had to repeat himself several times because they couldn't understand what he was saying.

"When a person blood pressure drop down to 70/45 you're on the verge of something else happening," Young said.

Georgetown County Sheriff's Office officials says when they receive 911 calls it's sometimes difficult to understand people when they don't have a good reception and that they listen very carefully.

They also say sometimes a Georgetown cell phone call to 911 will go to a tower in another county like Williamsburg, Charleston, or Horry. Officials say those calls are transferred back to Georgetown, but the location information is not available to Georgetown. On those calls with poor quality, a 911 operator will try to call back to a get better reception.

Young says his 911 call on Sunday initially went to Williamsburg County and he believes he could have had better connectivity with a landline phone.

"We live here in the state as everybody else do, we pay what they assess us to pay, so we feel that we should have that same service that everybody else get," Young said.

Young says a representative of Frontier Communications told him that the box that served them is too old, they’re unable to get parts to make repairs and it costs too much to fix it.

Resident Dwight Mehaffy says it's concerning that they don't have decent cell phone service.

"We have a son that lives in Surfside and a daughter that lives in Florence and one of them or the other has traveled some 40, 50 miles to check on us to make sure we were alright when we couldn't get phone service," Mehaffy said.

A resident says a landline phones is like a lifeline especially during an emergency.

The community says they don't want to have to move out of their homes in order to get service.

“It’s not a wealthy county and I understand that they have to make appropriations and watch where they spend their money,” Mehaffy said. “It would seem to me with the number of people affected here it’s worthwhile for them to put a little pressure on the phone system and if they can’t respond maybe we need another phone supplier.”

On October 30, the Director of Public Relations for Frontier Communications responded with the following information:

“Around 20 customers in St. Luke and Rose Hill, South Carolina are experiencing an extended telephone voice service disruption as the result of a hardware issue affecting the nearby Frontier office. Our priority is to restore service. Frontier is working diligently and expects to correct this issue by Monday. We also want to make things right. Frontier will provide bill credits to all affected customers and contact each individually to ensure they are receiving quality service and to confirm bill credits.”

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