Lincoln City Monday night joined an effort to convince the State Court of Appeals to help Tillamook and northern Lincoln County, as well as the City of Lincoln City get more reliable phone service during heavy winter storms, which some times knocks everything for a loop. About half the population can’t call each other or 9-1-1.
The crux of the matter is that from Depoe Bay north, up into Tillamook county, the telephone system that is run by Century Tel is vulnerable to stormy interruptions. The connection from Lincoln City to the Willamette Valley fails just west of Sheridan where it becomes fiber optic.
Lawyers for Lincoln City and north Lincoln County are asking the Court of Appeals to order the Oregon Public Utilities Commission to do something about it, or at least get the PUC to consider the request for a major phone system upgrade that is clearly needed to ensure that 9-1-1 and other vital phone services are available in north Lincoln County and Tillamook County when they are most needed; during big storms.
Lincoln, Tillamook and Lincoln City lawyers tried to get their issue in front of the PUC during the PUC’s recent merger hearings involving Century Tel and Qwest which will soon consolidate phone service along the central coast. But the PUC ruled that the issue didn’t belong in the middle of a merger proceeding. By appealing to the State Court of Appeals the lawyers hope that the PUC will be ordered to eventually take the issue more seriously.
Attorney Doug Holbrook says the technical options could include using fiber optic lines that can be tapped that already run from Newport to the valley at Albany. Another is partnering with fiber companies that have fiber routed in various configuration to Astoria, over to Portland and down to Sheridan. If both options could be pursued, it would create a 360 degree fiber ring running from Sheridan to Albany to Newport to Tillamook to Portland or from Tillamook to Sheridan using a different fiber line. If a storm knocked out a northern fiber route, the southern route would take the load, and vice versa.
Holbrook says a decision from the court of appeals could take from 9 months to two years.Share on Facebook