MARBLE MOUNTAIN: Being unable to use a phone during power outages has one local woman calling on Canada’s largest telecommunications company to provide answers, along with improved service.

“They said it was a power surge that knocked out the battery packs, but this has been going on a long time,” said Kate MacLean, one of the property owners in Marble Mountain.

During power outages, Bell Aliant’s landline phone service is backed-up by battery packs. On Christmas Day, during a power outage that affected many local communities, the lights went down in Marble Mountain. Dial tones also disappeared at that point, MacLean said. Given that cell service is poor in the area, she added, the lack of landline phones makes for a dangerous situation.

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She maintains this is a longstanding problem in the area. On December 26, she placed her first phone call to Bell Aliant. A second call was placed on December 27.

“One of the reasons I got so mad is that I called, complained, and was assured that they would look into this and have it fixed, but the next day when I called back, I found out they hadn’t recorded the issue I reported,” she said.

“Bell says this issue only began on Christmas Day during a power surge, but it’s been going on for five or six years. My grandparents moved out of the community, and that was a contributing factor,” she said. “When the power goes out for this elderly couple alone in their house, you couldn’t get hold of them to see if everything was okay.”

Not being able to make a call is irritating, but MacLean said when you are unable to contact emergency responders, the matter becomes far more serious.

“It’s turning into negligence, because if something happens down there where they can’t get medical attention because of this issue, it’s going to be a complicated situation,” she said.

After chatting with MacLean, The Reporter contacted Marc Choma, Bell Aliant’s director of communications. He confirmed there were problems with phone service in Marble Mountain, and said to the best of his understanding, everything was fixed.

“There were a couple of power surges that affected the telephone network in the Marble Mountain area,” he said. “We dispatched techs out there last week [December 25-29], and service was restored.

“It wasn’t so much the outage that caused the issue but the surges afterwards,” he said. “That’s what impacted some of the circuits on the network which they were able to repair.

“If a power surge causes some problem on the network, there is battery back-up supply as there is with most telecommunications equipment, but this was not an issue of just the power outage. It was the circuits that needed some repair work in the area.”