For more than five hours Sunday, thousands of Stone County residents had no way of calling for help, and emergency officials had no way of receiving their calls.
Bell South officials say crews were updating software in Wiggins Sunday morning when something went wrong at their switching office. The malfunction shut down phone service for 6,650 people from about 7 a.m. until about 12:30 p.m.
"We're very concerned for our customers and we want to get service restored as quickly as possible, because people rely on their telephone service," Bell South regional manager Rick Stewart said. "This is very unusual and the length that it took to restore service was longer than we would like but we're very happy now that the service has been restored."
Emergency officials told us they were able to keep in touch with each other using cell phones and radios while the phone service was down. No major problems were reported as a result. Bell South officials are still investigating what caused the problem.