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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Facebook Don Himsel at The Telegraph

    Christina Humber had her Fairpoint service restored Monday, November 7, 2011. Hundreds of people in the Nashua area lost their FAST service after the Halloween snowstorm because of software problems at the company's central office in Nashua.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Facebook Don Himsel at The Telegraph

    The tree that took down the Humber's FAST service during the Halloween storm.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Facebook Don Himsel at The Telegraph

    Christina Humber talks with a Fairpoint service technician outside her Nashua home Monday, November 7, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Facebook Don Himsel at The Telegraph

    Christina Humber talks with a Fairpoint service technician outside her Nashua home Monday,

    November 7, 2011.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

FairPoint’s FAST broadband struggles to rebound from outages

FairPoint’s fiber-optic broadband service is struggling to recover from last week’s power outage due in large part to software issues at a central office in Nashua, with customers facing dead connections for the FAST service in a dozen communities, including Nashua, Hudson, Merrimack, Brookline and Pelham.

FairPoint spokesman Jeff Nevins said the company would be “resyncing” a half-dozen optical line terminals Monday night in the Nashua central office, which channels the ultra-high-speed Internet service in many surrounding communities. He said this software change should fix most of those in the Nashua area whose FAST service is down, except for customers with problems relating to line damage.

“If you’re still down in the morning (Tuesday), call the repair center,” he said in a Monday evening interview.

Contacting FairPoint’s repair center has been a point of tension, however, for the dozen or so readers who contacted The Telegraph on Monday to discuss days without Internet service even after power returned.

“Trying to get information is like pulling teeth – they’re really unclear as to what the problem is,” said Richard Smith of Phillps Drive in Hudson.

“I’ve called and get automated message saying there are outages in all these towns. Twice I held on to speak to real person,” said Derek Widtfeldt of Atherton Avenue in Nashua. “All they could tell me is ‘it’s out’. I said: ‘Well, I knew that!’ ”

As with cable service, FairPoint’s FAST service doesn’t work without power once its battery packs run out, so customers didn’t realize there was a problem until after PSNH restored electricity. Most callers said power returned Monday or Tuesday, and as of the next day they were contacting FairPoint.

Some of those also lost their telephone service, which operates through FAST rather than over traditional telephone lines or cell phones.

Most of the FAST network, which covers parts of 24 communities in southern New Hampshire, was built as FiOS by Verizon before that company sold its landlines to FairPoint in 2008.

It provides the fastest Internet service available to residences at a reasonable price and has been a jewel in FairPoint’s crown. The biggest complaint it usually generates is that the company has no plans to expand fiber-optic lines beyond the current footprint.

“It has been amazing. I get better than the stated speeds and have not a single service interruption until last week,” said Mike Lupiani of Windham, who signed up for FAST two months ago, after FairPoint began a new push for subscribers with a lower $39.99-per-month rate.

Lupiani said power came Thursday. Then, he found he had no FAST service and could get no answers.

“I’ve been calling literally every eight hours,” he said. “Somebody told me a switching center was down in Nashua, somebody told me it was a fiber cut. Nobody really knew what was going on.”

FairPoint’s Nevins said the company received “about 400” trouble reports about the FAST network – as compared to telephone service or its DSL Internet service, both of which run over copper wires rather that fiber-optic lines – and “about 315” of the reports were from the areas served by the Nashua central office.

Nevins said part of the delay was caused by the fact that FairPoint crews can’t start working until the power company repairs are done.

“We’ve had crews out all weekend,” he said.

Among the customers who expressed frustration Monday was Christina Humber of Scott Avenue, who has had the fiber-optic service since it was Verizon’s FiOS. She had extra problems because a tree severed the fiber-optic line between her house and a utility pole.

“I’ve been getting the runaround for days,” she said of FairPoint customer service. “I’m ready to cancel and call Comcast, which I’m sorry to say, because we don’t love them either.”

Beth Scaer of East Hobart Street doesn’t have FAST, but she did lose her regular phone service after power came back – yet, confusingly, not her DSL service, which uses the same wires.

“What’s frustrating is they keep rescheduling the repair,” she said. “They said they were coming Friday, they didn’t come Friday; they said they were coming Saturday, they didn’t come Saturday; they said they were coming Sunday, they didn’t come Sunday.”

Scaer said she has called customer service repeatedly and has an observation: “They seemed really stressed out.”

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or