Work from home impossible due to Ian-related internet outage

Reporter: Zach Oliveri
Published: Updated:
CenturyLink (CREDIT: WINK News)

Trying to work from home without an internet connection is nearly impossible. That’s the reality for people who have gone a month without a way to get on the web.

Yadi Mendez was fired because she couldn’t perform her job without internet access.

“It’s the type of job you can’t do on a laptop,” Mendez said. “It’s impossible. Yeah, you can check your email, but it requires multiple screens, multiple websites and you’re on the phone a lot. It required a dedicated space and all my equipment.”

She was working from home for a Chicago-based company.

It was supposed to be a fresh start after she lost her job a year ago due to the pandemic.

She started this new role a week before Ian struck and was without power for nine days.

When the lights came back on, the internet didn’t.

So she spoke to CenturyLink to see when that might change.

First, it was 30 to 40 hours and then there was no time frame at all.

“They could at least give a timeframe, like, hey we’re working in this zip code or this quadrant in Cape Coral that feeds this area, you know with this anticipated date,” Mendez said. “They’re just flat out saying it could take weeks, months or into the first quarter.”

Because it could be until 2023, Mendez was let go by her employer.

Xfinity van. (CREDIT: WINK News)

“I was already suffering from depression, anxiety, insomnia and all that really escalated,” Mendez said. “At this point, I’m like what am I going to do?”

Xfinity workcrews are nearing full restoration of services. Excluding the barrier islands, Lee County has 98% of customers restored. Charlotte County is a 96% while Collier is at 99%.

Both Xfinity and CenturLlink have set up hotspot locations around Southwest Florida.

But Xfinity customer Bill Stanton is skeptical.

“Am I going to sit there all day long with the car running and the air on? You know I can go in with a full tank of gas and come out with nothing,” Stanton said. “I know I’m not the only one in this situation. That lost potentially or not getting paid because they don’t have internet at home.”

The latest numbers from Centurylink shows that there are 2,620 outages in Lee County north of the Caloosahatchee River, with estimated full restoration by the end of February.

South of the Caloosahatchee, there are 1,180 outages, with full restoration expected by mid-December.

Xfinity said it still has four WiFi plans deployed across Charlotte and Lee counties.

Those are located at:

  • Cape Coral: Walmart Supercenter at 1619 Del Prado Blvd S.
  • Fort Myers: Walmart Supercenter at 17105 San Carlos Blvd.
  • Port Charlotte: Walmart Neighborhood Market (Charlotte Square) at 2150 Tamiami Trail.
  • Punta Gorda: Punta Gorda Isles Civic Association at 2001 Shreve Street. The van is located in the parking lot.

CenturyLink said it has WIFI at the following locations:

  • 3445 Sanibel Captiva Rd., Sanibel
  • 906 Country Club Blvd., Cape Coral
  • 4001 Palm Tree Blvd, Cape Coral
  • 4195 Kings Hwy, Port Charlotte
  • 10546 Tipton Dr., Bokeelia (Pine Island)

The network is “CTL-QF Free WiFI”, no password required.

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