Berlin residents, business owners urged to report internet outages – Worcester County News Bayside Gazette

Berlin officials have urged residents to report internet problems to their providers as they await the addition of new access points in the city centre.

Main street of Berlin

The main street in the center of Berlin is photo.
File photo

By Charlene Sharpe, Associate Editor

Berlin officials have asked residents to report internet problems to their providers.

While city staff have been in communication with Comcast about Internet outages in Berlin, they said it was still helpful if residents went directly to their providers when outages occurred.

“It’s much more effective for them to get 500 complaints from citizens than one complaint from the city,” said City Administrator Mary Bohlen.

Staff told the council last week that in the downtown area, Comcast was experiencing technical problems with some of the equipment that provides Internet service to the city. They are working to fix the problem during the night hours, between midnight and 6 a.m., so it doesn’t affect residents and businesses, according to Tim Lawrence, the city’s director of electrical services.

“We hope they will repair it as soon as possible,” he said.

He urged residents to report any internet problems they experience to their provider. Councilman Steve Green said he knew of at least one business that had to close over the Memorial Day weekend because of a lack of internet connectivity.

“Keep reporting it,” said chairman Zack Tyndall. “We have spoken to their people about government matters, but we continue to report this matter. Same with Verizon.”

Bohlen said posting complaints about Internet service on social media was not effective.

“Comcast is not reading your comments,” she said.

She added that the internet providers were independent companies operating under franchise agreements with the city.

“We have very little leverage,” she said.

Councilman Jack Orris asked if the city could work with another franchise.

“I want you to open that door as much as you can,” Bohlen said. “Historically cities that have opened that door have found it favorable, but it’s a tremendous amount of work and requires expensive lawyers to do it.”

Tyndall said one thing the city would look at in the future was fiber optic internet, as other cities have found success with it.

“It’s something we’ve identified as a pathway that warrants further exploration,” he said.

While unrelated to the Comcast issue, Community and Economic Development Director Ivy Wells told the council that crews would be adding access points downtown to improve free public wifi.

“We had received some complaints from some of the farmers market vendors,” she said, adding that they had been unable to use their mobile credit card processing apps.

To address this issue, the city will have more access points added.

“They will be coming out in the coming weeks to increase our access points,” she said. “This should help with people downtown who need public Wi-Fi while they’re out and about.”

This story appears in the June 6, 2024, print edition of the Bayside Gazette.

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