Glitch cuts telephone service to businesses : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Glitch cuts telephone service to businesses BY TOM WILBER Press & Sun-Bulletin

A telecommunications problem left many Southern Tier businesses, from insurance companies to medical offices, out of touch with patients, customers and clients at the start of the work week. The problem became apparent early Monday when callers to companies such as PRL Associates, an Endicott insurance and financial services firm, and Vestal Eye Care Associates were told the phone had been disconnected or was no longer in service.

The phone problem affected an undisclosed number of Choice One customers, who had recently switched from CTSI. The changeover came as CTSI, based in Dallas, Pa., sold off its operations in the greater Binghamton area.

Executives at CTSI and Choice One said the problem should be fixed by today. As of late Monday afternoon, phone service had already been restored to some businesses.

The problem was related to a train fire in Baltimore, Md., which caused an interruption between regional databases, according to a statement from Choice One and CTSI. The databases maintain information that allows customers to keep existing phone numbers as they move from one company to the other. The phone companies are working around the clock to fix the problem, according to the news release.

Customers in the Southern Tier were upset over the loss of service, which caused callers to get a recording that said the number was disconnected.

"It looks like we are out of business or didn't pay our bills," said Stephen Carr, a partner with PRL Associates. "It's terrible." The insurance firm receives about 300 calls on a typical day, including new business and people who are reporting claims.

While the problem was likely to discourage new business, it was also a potentially huge problem for existing customers, Carr said.

"The biggest issue is our current clients. They have no way of getting hold of us."

Dr. Ronald Meeker, an optometrist in Vestal, had similar concerns. "It's very disconcerting," he said. "The biggest thing is patients can't get ahold of me if they have an emergency, like a foreign body in their eye."

-- Carl Jenkins (, July 25, 2001

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