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Some Suburbanites Still Have Phone Trouble Despite New System

May 27, 1988

CHICAGO (AP) _ A new system has been hooked up to restore service to half of Illinois Bell’s 35,000 west suburban customers whose telephones have been faulty since Mother’s Day, but some said Friday that phone trouble persists.

″Mine doesn’t work,″ said Erva Wilson, a Hinsdale homeowner who was borrowing a neighbor’s phone to try to get some answers about her telephone service problems.

″My son tried to make a long-distance call to Iowa and he couldn’t, so we’re still having problems here,″ said Raymond Zimner, also of Hinsdale.

Ms. Wilson and Zimner are two of the thousands of customers whose lines were reconnected to a state-of-the-art digital switching system at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, 2 1/2 weeks after a fire ravaged the Hinsdale switching station.

Since the blaze, thousands of customers have had periodic trouble completing calls to local numbers and have not been able to place calls outside their area code.

Though half were reconnected late Thursday, others will continue to have spotty local service and trouble calling long distance until ″sometime in the beginning of June,″ when they’re connected to the digital system, said Illinois Bell spokeswoman Laura Littel.

Ms. Littel said the company has received some complaints from reconnected customers Friday, but that problems with the new system should be ″isolated″ and can be fixed quickly.

″If they call today with trouble, it will be cleared up very soon after they call. It’s just a matter of tweaking the system and finding out where the bug is,″ she said Friday.

″When you put a machine like this into action, usually we have weeks and weeks of testing to make sure it’s running perfect and smooth. But because this was an emergency situation, we rushed the job,″ Ms. Littel said.

″We did things in reverse order: We did a little testing, turned the machine on, and now we’re dealing with the trouble,″ she said.

Zimner, who owns a delivery and messenger service, said, ″My business had been down (since the fire) because I couldn’t communicate with my clients.″

Ms. Wilson, a retiree, said she was ″pretty disappointed″ when she picked up the phone Friday morning, and there was no dial tone.

″I’m much inconvenienced. I live by myself, so it’s a bit of a concern,″ she said.

″I knew that they were supposed to switch over to a new machine, so I thought today everybody’s phone was going to be OK - but mine isn’t,″ Ms. Wilson said.

Also Friday, Gov. James R. Thompson said that Illinois Bell has indicated a willingness to assist local governments recover from the telephone crisis.

The plan ″would probably include grants, purchase of emergency preparedness equipment or some other form of assistance,″ Thompson said.

Thompson also said the Office of the State Fire Marshal is investigating the fire. If it is determined that the blaze was linked to an electrical storm that hit the area, businesses and local governments could possibly become eligible for federal aid.

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