A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Crossed wires? Worrying about phone lines…

Written August 12th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Wires spill from a sidewalk box at Queen and Geary on July 29.

Not too long ago, on a ride on the Perwinkle Bike Path, I came across this mess of telephone wiring at the corner of Queen Avenue and Geary Street. It made me wonder about the vulnerability of our landline telephone system to vandalism and ordinary wear and tear.

I have no idea who tore the cover off this metal box containing, apparently, telephone wires. The wires themselves didn’t appear to be damaged. But it was unsettling to see them spilled on the ground like that. How many voice and data users in the neighborhood would be affected if the wires were cut? And how long would it take to splice them all together again?

Three of four years ago, I once picked up the phone and heard somebody else’s conversation. I called the phone company, and a technician arrived. He busied himself at the metal box out on the street and eventually fixed the problem. Evidently something had gone wrong or come loose, and the wires had to be reconnected in the right order, or to their proper mates.

So now, every time I see the wiring in those curbside boxes — when the boxes have been tampered with, exposing the insides — it’s a sign of possible trouble.

It’s no problem, of course, for people relying entirely on their cell phones. Judging by the way phone books have shrunk in the last 20 years, the number of people relying on old-fashioned phone company landlines has gone down a lot. But for those remaining few, the phone company had better make sure the wires don’t cross. (hh)

The way it looked from my bike that day,

3 responses to “Crossed wires? Worrying about phone lines…”

  1. HowlingCicada says:

    I’ve come across exactly the same in Corvallis. How the system continues to function is a little beyond my grasp. I went cell-phone-only a couple years ago after my apartment’s wiring became unrepairably broken. Apparently, Century Link fears losing a lot of customers (for many reasons) because every few months I’d get a mailer trying to scare me from dropping landline service and offering gimmicks just as obnoxious as those of the cell phone companies.

  2. Brad says:

    It feels like Centurylink just doesn’t care anymore. Their broadband offerings in Albany are a couple hundred times slower than Comcast and there are no signs of them upgrading anything soon. We’re going to have a lot of new options for phone and internet over the next ten years and Centurylink is doing nothing to compete.

  3. Bill Higby says:

    Same thing in our neighborhood. Cover ripped of a green box and wires everywhere….but then we don’t use wired phones.


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