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Bear’s Pass Bell customers still not happy

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The same day the Times published an article concerning phone problems at Bear’s Pass, Melanie Kozik was faced with a business emergency because hers didn’t work.

Kozik’s husband, Kim, owns a refrigeration business in Fort Frances. He was installing a new air-conditioning system at Rainycrest Home for the Aged here when their son, Adam, who works at the store, called to tell his mom the freezer had stopped working and the commercial ice was melting.

During the ensuing call to reach her husband, the land line failed. Kozik was cut-off and could not re-establish contact.

“I push the clicker down, I’ve got nothing. I don’t even have loud noise. I have a completely dead phone line . . . I couldn’t believe it,” she recalled.

“These phone problems, you never know when they are going to happen, there are no signs,” she added.

Kozik immediately grabbed both her daughters and drove 30 km into town. Fortunately, the ice was salvaged.

Kozik phoned Bell to complain. She said they were very sympathetic--she even received a call back--but offered no permanent solutions.

“After all this time, people deserve some sort of compensation for all of this. For what we’ve put up with and been so patient with,” she argued.

“I really think we do because we pay the exact same [amount] everybody else does,” she stressed. “We are not asking for anything special. We just want a reliable phone.”

But other residents have noticed some positive changes in their service. Jerry Korman, a computer consultant at Bear’s Pass, said he had no problems with his dial tone last week.

“It looked like they were on-site until about Saturday trying to get things fixed,” he noted.

“As far as [basic] services, as far as losing the dial tone, that’s been fixed,” he added, saying there also was a modest improvement in Internet connection rates.

Bernard Blake, regional manager for Bell, said his company continues to work on the problem and hoped for a solution in the near future.

“We had engineers in the area. We were doing testing, we were doing all kinds of activity to find [a solution],” he stressed.

“We’ve done a significant amount of work [in Bear’s Pass] and right now I’m waiting for the analysis. I hope to have something final by the end of this week,” Blake added.

The problem primarily lies with the SR-500 switch, manufactured by SR Telecom (of Montreal) connecting Bear’s Pass to existing Bell equipment (manufactured by Nortel).

Bell permanently installed the SR-500 about a year ago and problems have persisted since. Apparently, it doesn’t communicate well with the more proven Nortel technology.

John Kwasnick, DMS technical support engineer with Nortel in Raleigh, N.C., said he and his supervisor had never heard of SR Telecom or their equipment.

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