UPDATE Aug. 27, 2020: Explanation August 25th Outage from Frontier Communications & Caltrans

UPDATE: August 27, 2020 9:19 a.m.-

Sierra Wave received the following message from Christopher Andriessen, Maintenance PIO & Customer Service Liaison, District 9, this morning:

On August 25, a Caltrans crew was installing a double-post road sign on State Route 178, near the intersection with U.S. Hwy 395 in Inyokern. During the installation, the crew inadvertently impacted a Verizon fiber optic cable buried underground. When the incident was discovered, Caltrans immediately contacted Verizon to see that the line was repaired, and service restored.

UPDATE: 8/26/2020 5:00 p.m.

It took Sierra Wave the good part of that day to get to the bottom on this “mystery,” but here it is!

From: Javier Mendoza, Vice President, Corporate Communications and External Affairs, Frontier Communications

“Charles, here is the information. Please attribute response to me.

Tuesday, August 25, Frontier crews responded to reports of a service disruption to customers in the Mammoth Lakes area and discovered that a State road crew cut a Frontier fiber-optic cable near Hwy. 395 disrupting service for about two hours for Frontier customers, including carriers served by our network.

Frontier crews responded, worked diligently to repair the damage and restored service around 5 p.m.

We thank our customers and the communities we serve for their patience as our team worked to restore service.

Frontier reminds contractors, residents and business owners that by law, they must call ‪811 and have underground line locations marked before they dig in the yard or at construction sites. Calling 811 or Underground Service Alert will help avoid damage to unseen lines while digging and prevent such service interruptions.”

Thanks to Javier at Frontier for his prompt response

So, yes “Verizon, we can hear you now!”

[ORIGINAL POST: August 26, 2020 12:02 pm]

It’s not often an AT&T customer is thinking, “Thank god I have AT&T!” But yesterday was that day!

There was no Verizon mobile or Internet service in Mammoth Lakes and Bishop for most of yesterday, August 25. It was astoundingly difficult to get a hold of anyone with any information to explain the outage. One source claimed it was the “fires,” while another claimed it was a CalTrans crew that had accidentally cut the fiber optic cable. At some point, you could have blamed it on the coronavirus.

Sierra Wave has calls out to the CalTrans Public Information Office for District 9 and to Verizon’s Media office. No luck so far. The Mono EOC did not have an explanation either.

So far, there’s no response and no press releases either explaining or accepting responsibility for the outage. It’s a if it never happen! But yet, hundred of Verizon customers flooded social media complaining of no cell service or internet. Banks and many stores were unable to process any electronic transactions and it made it impossible to use your ATM or credit cards. Business had to be done by check or in cash.

Service appears to have been restored last night, but there are still complaints online that people are having difficulties.


18 Responses to UPDATE Aug. 27, 2020: Explanation August 25th Outage from Frontier Communications & Caltrans

  1. mammothite August 27, 2020 at 6:05 pm #

    As Fred Stump stated it is a business decision to use which provider. Suddenlink uses the Digital 395 fiber cable. Frontier does not. Some Verizon wireless is on the digital 395 network , those stayed live.

    T-mobile and some ATT use the Frontier fiber. that is why it was down.

    Not everyone can connect to the Digital 395 fiber. You need to either use Suddenlink or in the area of Race for the last mile service. You can connect privately to Digital 395 as a commercial customer through Inyo Networks , which is fairly expensive.

    I too agree that Suddenlink had a big problem with customer care. Especially since Altice took over.

    I did think that Frontier was to provide their own redundancy or connect through Digital 395 when the sale from Verizon went through , I guess they did not and nobody checked.

  2. Grr Grr August 27, 2020 at 5:21 pm #

    YES, not permanently resolved ..agree … Patience

  3. or August 27, 2020 at 4:41 pm #

    It is truly frustrating that these large corporate operators are so reluctant to release any information about the cause of outages when they occur. The best you can ever seem to get from them is “We are aware of the outage, sorry for the inconvenience… there is no estimated time when service will be restored, Thank you.”

    Not too many years ago, the Verizon backbone (now operated by Frontier) was the only fiber optic connection to the Eastern Sierra, from Southern California.

    The Digital 395 project, which was conceived to provide a superior fiber backbone to our area by connecting at both its north and south ends, is not so much controlled by the giant corporations: –it is a California Cooperative project largely involving local County governments and public service agencies as well as some private interests. Suddenlink joined in to the Co-op, and then later Race Communications, but Verizon, ATT, Frontier, et al were not interested. We should probably actually be grateful for this, as they may have attempted to assimilate the D395 project into their corporate megalopoly. In my view it is a good thing that they wanted to maintain the Frontier backbone separately from the D395 backbone even though it is only connected at the south end. Both backbone systems are designed for reliability, but stuff happens: any system can occasionally fail.

  4. ew August 27, 2020 at 3:26 pm #

    Any update on the current outage? It’s been down since 11;30 a.m.

    • Charles James August 27, 2020 at 4:16 pm #

      Today, as in Thursday, August 27th? Cannot tell when you actually sent this comment! If you are still having issues, yu likely need to take it up with your cellphone carrier or if the Internet, your ISP. Good luck!

      • nemestrinus August 27, 2020 at 4:44 pm #

        Yep, it has gone out again today Thursday August 27.

        • Charles James August 27, 2020 at 6:40 pm #

          Did not know that. Since then a number of readers and listeners have reached out to let us know. Our frustration is, why don’t they let people know what is going on and approximately how long it may take to resolve? Not knowing is what drives people nuts…and resentful.

  5. Good bye August 27, 2020 at 11:51 am #

    And yet it just happened again

  6. Anonemoose August 27, 2020 at 6:36 am #

    T-Mobile was down also. We just turned on “wifi calling” and everything was ok thru SuddenLink.
    BTW we have had SL for a year now, with a few exceptions of 2 or 3 minute burbs maybe 4 or 5 times it has been flawless. Only use 100mb unlimited data no tv or phone -Two laptops, two phones, 3 Rokus all running fine. We get all the same TV channels that Suddenlink offers via streaming for $25 a month thru other providers.

    You want to talk horror stories, be glad you don’t have to deal with Cox Communications.

  7. Bob August 26, 2020 at 10:24 pm #

    AT&T was down most of the day on this occurrence in the south county. Im in Independence. All of my co workers with AT&T were down. Everyone with Verizon worked perfect. Just the opposite of the north end.

  8. Grrr Grrr August 26, 2020 at 4:48 pm #

    I was frustrated attempting to contact Verizon through their website apparently a ‘ robotic’ text non-human -non human customer service communication. All I wanted to know if there was an outage in our area. If yes? I could deal with, however, I entered into a vortex loop of “do this ; do that” which I already had done before ( via my iPad -non-Verizon- WiFi only ) I was attempting to troubleshoot. Anyway, most frustrating that a company with a gazillion dollars does not offer a human to talk & or text with. Just venting !

    Duly noted, since 2004, this is the first time I had need to contact them regarding an interruption in service.

  9. FishinDay395! August 26, 2020 at 3:49 pm #

    Are we sure Suddenlink got connected? Because when I had them I seemed to always be disconnected. On top of that they have thee rudest and worst customer service I’ve ever come across. They also had the most frequent random price hikes every 3-6 months with no notification what so ever. I switched to Frontier and it’s been surprisingly great here in Bishop. Way better price also.

    • Grr Grr August 26, 2020 at 5:11 pm #

      Overall, I’ve had no issues with Suddenlink ( i.e. Alltice ) other than their yearly inexplicable increases in pricing. However, so far TV & streaming in my mid-town location ( 1 1/2 blocks away from Main Street ) digital 395 I have no complaints.

  10. Fred Stump August 26, 2020 at 3:20 pm #

    Digital 395 does have redundancy. Verizon and Frontier do not use that system. Verizon has it’s own fiber optic cable that in places runs above ground and much more vulnerable to damage. These are business decisions by both companies so they do not have to pay a third party, Digital 395 system operators, for the broadband capacity they need. I am also not aware of any location where Schat uses the D-395 system but there might be some. I do not live in a Sudden Link community so I am not sure about them. I do hear frequent complaints about their level of service inside the town of Mammoth Lakes. In the Mono County communities served by Race Communications, which does use the D-395 system, all credit card and other functions stayed up yesterday. Lastly, as an AT&T cell phone user, I agree completely with the first sentence of the article.

  11. Genevieve August 26, 2020 at 1:25 pm #

    AT&T service was out all day in Lee Vining yesterday. I had to use my Verizon HotSpot just to send text messages from my phone. So I sure wasn’t happy to have AT&T cell service yesterday!

    • Charles James August 26, 2020 at 4:36 pm #

      Genevieve, thank you for the information. You are the first to report a problem with AT&T. Everything else has been been Verizon and/or Frontier related. Verizon public relations denied any involvement. Frontier public relations is looking into it as we heard from one source that something went amiss in InyoKern yesterday involving Frontier which resulted in the outage. No one in government or the communication companies has provided an explanation.

  12. Again and Again and Again August 26, 2020 at 1:14 pm #

    Wasn’t Digital 395 supposed to help put an end to the fiber optic outages by creating a loop? Especially for the credit and atm card transactions and emergency calls? The last I read about it a few years ago (before Frontier came to the area) Verizon had refused to pay the hook up fee for connecting to Digital 395. At the time I think only Sudden Link and Schat.net had connected.
    Perhaps Verizon can answer to that as well……if you can ever get a hold of them……

    • Allen Berrey August 28, 2020 at 10:02 am #

      Digital 395 is and was an expensive boondoggle, intended only to benefit the government.

      It was conceived and pitched by Praxis Inc., which took full advantage of the Obama administration’s effort to get the economy going by shelling out b/millions of dollars to bring internet service to rural America.

      In order to get those federal (and California PUC) dollars, Praxis had to demonstrate that all the affected local governments were for it, as they ostensibly represent the people.

      And Praxis cynically and effectively got that local government support by designing Digital 395 so that it mainly served “anchor” customers, i.e., local governments and their employees.

      The local governments then did their bit and whole-heartedly supported the project, even approving the mother-of-all mitigated negative declarations – and NOT an EIR – for Digital 395’s construction.

      Once they were taken care of, the local governments didn’t see a need to force Praxis to re-design the project (which they could have demanded via an EIR with “alternatives”) so that it would actually benefit private business and the public – those who were intended to be served by Digital 395 in the first place.

      And, like Steve Miller sang, Praxis then “took the money and run,” leaving the cooperative holding the bag and “we the people” left with poor internet/phone service.

      How do I know all this?

      Because I worked in the Mono County Counsel’s office when it all came down the pike – I spoke several times with Praxis’s Michael Ort about it – and so saw first hand what was happening behind the scenes.

      P.S. – Look forward to obfuscating Texas-two-step defensive platitudes in response to this comment from those who supported and approved Digital 395.


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