On Tuesday (November 10), many in the TransPecos looked for other things to do, when a sudden interruption in AT&T service cut out telephones and Internet.
John Johnson is working the large cardboard compactor at the Marfa Recycling Center, the Marfa Dump: “Crushing cardboard,” he says, “compacting.”
Even at the Marfa Dump, it seems to be the only piece of machinery working. “Well, I was talking on the phone and it shut off at 12:15 PM. And I haven’t been able to call back, because I still don’t have service.”
For more than 8 hours on Tuesday afternoon and evening, a large part of Far West Texas lost its telephone land lines, Internet, and cell-phone service due to a AT&T fiber-line cut. Constructions crews in Odessa on Murphy Street accidentally cut the line that affected a large part of the Transpecos. The interruption affected Brewster, Presidio, Jeff Davis, Culbertson, and Hudspeth Counties.
Marfa Public Radio was transmitting at KRTS, but not through its repeaters in Alpine and Marathon. On 93.5 FM, Asa Merritt and Wesley Smith helped announce updates.
In her role as Presidio County Judge, Cinderalla Guevara serves as emergency coordinator for the county. She was frustrated – she said – to get automated responses from AT&T, when she was trying to get updates on the crisis.
Cell-phone providers like Verizon were in business. Some Big Bend Telephone customers were ok. And the Holland Hotel in Alpine had Wi-Fi. Residents using Mountain Zone Cable, T-Mobile, and others were compromised because they rely on AT&T for their infrastructure.
Some businesses couldn’t run credit cards to make sales.
Cut off from email, Facebook, and texting – people found other things to do to occupy their afternoon. For example, Brad Bingham of Marfa chopped wood, fixed his radiator, and took his time making dinner.
Service was restored during the 8 PM hour.