Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Camden Loses Net for 6 Hours; Provider Went Down, Leaving Much of the County Scrambling

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Camden Loses Net for 6 Hours; Provider Went Down, Leaving Much of the County Scrambling

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON and KEVIN PRICE

ST. MARYS - Many government offices, businesses and homes in Camden County went nearly six hours without Internet and long-distance phone service Tuesday because the main provider, TDS Telecommunications Corp., went down.

The problem began about 9 a.m. and wasn't resolved until just before 3 p.m., said DeAnne Boegli, national public relations manager for TDS, which operates in 30 states from a home base in Madison, Wis.

The Sheriff's Office was affected more than most because weeks ago it changed to a phone service that goes through its Internet, said Bryan Fewox, who oversees the department's information technology.

"We're using hard-line phones not affected by the Internet to call out," Fewox said during the outage.

The county's 911 service was not affected, but all but one non-emergency line to the Sheriff's Office were down, he said.

"People can get through by calling [729] 1442. That's the number published for the Sheriff's Office. Unfortunately, not too many people are aware of anything besides 911," he said.

The biggest problem was in traffic stops and investigations, he said.

Without the Internet, officers could not run tag numbers and driver's licenses to see if those they stopped had outstanding warrants or posed a danger, Fewox said. Also, the Sheriff's Office could not compare any fingerprints with those in a national database, he said.

As a result, officers took chances by not knowing the backgrounds of those they stopped, Fewox said.

"That's probably the most serious element we have in this," he said.

Cindy Daniels, who takes care of information technology for the County Commission, said simply, "We have no Internet, no e-mail. We can't communicate with the outside world."

Many county offices communicate with each other and state agencies through e-mail, she said.

Also, outlying fire stations couldn't send their run reports to county fire headquarters and EMS could not report its calls to the state, she said. …

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