If you live in the Truckee/North Tahoe area, one word has lately been on the brain: Suddenlink. For three consecutive days in January, the “most popular posts” emailed out by the Nextdoor social media platform were regarding internet issues. Moonshine Ink even got in on the struggle: Our wifi connection was in and out this month for weeks, though we ultimately discovered that was likely due to a faulty modem. (Thank the journalistic powers that be that you’re reading this now!)

Complaints ranged from repeated ins and outs in connectivity to customers’ struggle to get an actual representative on the line. “I’ve had Suddenlink for 1 1/2 months [and] have made my 4th call to them about the service not working. This is becoming increasingly frustrating, and I’m looking for alternatives,” wrote one Sierra Meadows Nextdoor user.

Unfortunately, according to a Suddenlink employee who shall remain nameless, that person is unlikely to find an alternative because other networks just aren’t viable in the area. In fact, the employee has installed Suddenlink for two AT&T executives and two technicians from that company, who knew that their own corporation wasn’t going to cut it to connect in this region if they had to work from home.

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“Suddenlink has been having network issues for more than a month,” wrote a Tahoe Donner resident on Nextdoor. “I lost internet late December. The Suddenlink tech came over and he said they had too many customers on the network.”

According to Ashwin Bhandari, manager of communications for Altice USA, the umbrella company that acquired Suddenlink in 2015, that Nextdoor user is not wrong.

“Over the holidays, we experienced elevated levels of usage on our network as we supported the needs of residents and their visitors,” Bhandari told Moonshine Ink in an email. “Suddenlink’s goal is to provide all of our customers throughout the area with the best connectivity experience possible, and we continue to invest in our local network and services to accommodate growing needs.”

Some Tahoe/Truckee residents have resorted to unconventional methods of securing wireless internet throughout the “drought,” such as one Nextdoor user who prefers to keep an old iPhone set up with an unlimited plan and a constant hotspot running in their home to provide internet, rather than a modem.

According to our anonymous employee, problems began in earnest following the 2015 acquisition of Suddenlink by Altice USA and stemmed from an increase in outside contractors hired as technicians. Such technicians are paid by the job rather than on salary, incentivizing them to work quickly.

Availability to respond to customer concerns has been another frequent matter of complaint, such as from a Glenshire Nextdoor user, who manages 48 homes in the area and deals with Suddenlink “TOO often,” he wrote. “We see them no show for countless appointments, no call, no email, just ghosted.” (Moonshine visited Truckee’s local office multiple times in person to get a comment from a local representative, only to be told that any comments needed to come from Altice USA headquarters in New York).

Bhandari explained that another reason for recent connectivity issues stemmed from an updated system for billing and operational platforms, “which will make account management more streamlined and user-friendly, among other customer benefits,” he said. “During this process, there were brief delays and longer wait times for some customers. Our service levels have normalized and we have greatly appreciated our customers’ patience during this time as we resolve any unintended disruption caused by this upgrade.”

Altice USA provides video, mobile, and broadband services across the country and manages multiple provider networks, including the local Suddenlink retail store and office in Truckee.

“We greatly value our long-standing relationship with the Truckee community and the opportunity to serve its residents and businesses,” Bhandari said.

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