Congressman calls for AG, FCC investigations into service outages across rural Arizona

By Lacey Latch |Arizona Republic

Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran called for investigations into the phone and internet service outages in rural Arizona that impacted thousands of people.

Arizona congressman Tom O’Halleran sent letters to both the state Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Communications Commission calling for investigations into whether the phone and internet service outages that impacted thousands of people in rural Arizona last weekend were the result of negligence by Frontier Communications.  

“‘Unacceptable’ does not begin to describe the situation that St. Johns families have experienced these past few days; they are living in dystopian-like conditions, unable to dial 911 or use their gas pumps,” O’Halleran said in a statement. “Frontier’s inability to provide communications services is a threat to not only Arizona’s power supply, but the broader Western U.S. Power System, law enforcement and emergency services’ ability to communicate among themselves and with the public, and the safety of all local families.”

Authorities can link at least one death directly to the outages as an elderly St. Johns resident was found on the floor of his home Sunday and bystanders were unable to call 911 for some time. Service disruptions lasted for nearly 48 hours — from Saturday to Monday — across the entirety of Apache County and most of neighboring Navajo County, according to St. Johns Police Chief Lance Spivey.

“Public safety professionals in this region — we deserve better, the public deserves better,” Spivey previously told The Republic. “We take our profession very seriously and when we can’t do our job protecting basic human life or provide medical treatment appropriately, it’s shameful.”

O’Halleran represents the state’s first congressional district which includes large rural areas that have been dealing with these service issues for years. 

“Our office has received reports detailing significant and frequent outages in communication networks across in Apache County and Navajo County in recent years, and it appears that little has been done to remediate and prevent future outages from happening,” O’Halleran wrote in his letter to the Attorney General’s office on Thursday, two days after sending his letter to the FCC. 

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