Gatlinburg’s deadly wildfires have left AT&T speeding up its plans in providing the residents with television, internet, and phone services. It is a move aimed at offering a much viable and better option than Charter for the residents, as there has been a surge of complaints in recent weeks from many customers against Charter’s services. The company is accused of not restoring the internet and TV services while also billing the customers for services never provided. There are also complaints regarding Charter’s demand for refund from the customers by sending them refund checks.
AT&T intends to provide new services to customers in the Chalet Village and Greystone Heights by the end of July. Spokeswoman Cathy Lewandowski said, “I think folks will be pretty excited to hear there’s another service option which includes AT&T. We have already received service orders from folks who are in that area that want AT&T. This is great news for us. We’re working to provide our customers with the latest and greatest technology, so that they can do their business and have their connectivity provided by AT&T.”
After a month of the fire, Charter has successfully restored its services for Gatlinburg customers to almost sixty percent. Charter spokesperson Patti Michel brought out a statement that declared, “Charter is committed to restoring service as quickly as possible and have deployed additional crews to accelerate reconstruction. As of Jan. 18, our crews have restored more than 55 miles of network infrastructure. The percentage of customers restored is growing continually as we rebuild our network where it was damaged by the fire.”
AT&T’s decision to implement the new services in Chalet and Greystone heights was a relief to many customers. Kristi Buchholz, whose cabin was burned up in the fire, shared her excitement on AT&T’s offering, and said, “I would absolutely consider them first, and maybe that will help the residents in another way, by making the cost of it not as high if there’s a little competition in the area. I probably would go to them over Charter based on how (Charter) treated everybody up there. I think a lot of people would do that.”
The fire affected many local businesses and the slow restoration work has caused a negative impact in the services. Alecia Hasselbeck, whose rental business is severely affected by the outage, is optimistic about AT&T’s decision to provide services in Chalet region. Many customers in the area are also awaiting AT&T in providing much better services than Charter.