NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (WPRI) — At the end of July, Verizon wireless customers on Block Island lost cellular services for four days, and the communications company is strengthening its system in response, according to a report by the New Shoreham town manager.
The Verizon signals went down late in the day on Friday, July 26, Town Manager Edward Roberge said in a report to the island’s town council. But, after he contacted local Verizon officials, Roberge said they told him a “perfect storm” had led to the total failure, and there was a lack of understanding by Verizon that its cell service was down for the entire island.
On the mainland, a fiber circuit failed—which, in fact, is operated by Cox Communications between Verizon hubs in Charlestown and Providence—and on the microwave circuit between the mainland and the island, there was an equipment port issue. A backup to that port failed as well.
Though the Verizon Network Operations Center got notifications of both issues, it wasn’t made clear to them (in their own system) that you couldn’t make a Verizon call at all on Block Island.
Verizon service was back by the evening of Tuesday, July 30, and Roberge said the mainland fiber circuit issue is now repaired. A backup on the microwave circuit is awaiting repair, which is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 12.
Verizon also added a mainland fiber circuit of its own and designated Cox’s circuit as a secondary—which Verizon had been planning to do before the outage happened. Furthermore, the town of New Shoreham has been given heightened priority on Verizon’s list, the town will have more periodic testing scheduled for backup connection methods, and the cell phones owned by town officials themselves have also been given a high priority.
The town will also assist Verizon crews in getting space on ferries operated by Interstate Navigation if needed, Roberge’s report said.