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Commission tables PSC letter


The Stutsman County Commission tabled a preliminary letter of complaint Tuesday to the North Dakota Public Service Commission about the lack of redundant long distance service and interconnect capabilities offered by CenturyLink to the Jamestown area.

The letter was tabled after Stutsman County Emergency Manager and 911 Coordinator Jerry Bergquist said he spoke with Becky Thatcher-Keller, Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, about the loss of long distance telephone service on April 21 due to a cut in CenturyLink’s fiberoptic cable west of West Fargo.

Thatcher-Keller said Tuesday evening she had been asked by some Chamber members to see if the Chamber Board of Directors would support writing a similar letter of complaint to the Public Service Commission.

Thatcher-Keller said as part of her information gathering process she contacted Kent Blickensderfer, CenturyLink’s director of legislative affairs. She said CenturyLink is a member of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce.

After speaking with Blickensderfer, Thatcher-Keller said she is proposing the Chamber host a meeting in early- or mid-June with CenturyLink, Dakota Central Communications, Dakota Carrier Networks, a separate company from Dakota Central Communications that provides interconnective service to all phone companies in North Dakota, and representatives from Stutsman County, the city of Jamestown, business owners and customers who have been affected by loss of long distance phone service and other interconnectivity issues due to cuts in CenturyLink’s cable between Jamestown and Fargo.

Blickensderfer could not be reached for comment after the meeting as it was after normal business hours.

Mark Klose, County Commission chairman, said he agrees that exploring other options rather than filing a complaint letter with the Public Service Commission is a good idea.

“The best we’re going to get is get it fixed anyway,” he said.

In the draft letter of complaint, Bergquist said using 911 records he and his staff documented five cable cuts that have occurred since 2011. The shortest interruption of service was 4 hours, the longest 10 1/2 hours.

Bergquist said this issue has existed for a long time and was a problem well before CenturyLink purchased Qwest Corporation in 2011. Bergquist said the draft letter from the county looks at the problem from public safety, business perspective and economic development considerations.

“This letter was meant to raise awareness,” he said. “In the end, we’re making them (PSC) aware, indirectly.” (701) 952-8454

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454