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Phone service dilemma leads to rural family's landline cut off

Posted at 7:11 AM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 08:11:46-04

OILTON, Okla. — With cell phones everywhere, the idea of having a landline seems foreign for so many folks these days. But for some, that landline can be a critical lifeline they desperately depend on.

When a rural family had their landline cut off, they asked the 2News Problem Solvers for help.

Less than an hour's drive west of Tulsa, you'll find the tiny town of Oilton, if you don't blink. Where Marsha Green lives with her mom, in a meager mobile home. But life, they say, has been tough, and growing even tougher.

"It's awfully sad,” Marsha says.

You see Marsha battles diabetes and has all of her life, with other serious medical ailments as well. She's on oxygen all day, every day, all year long.

"I'm on five shots a day, I'm on three different inhalers a day."

Now, Marsha says their lifeline, their landline phone, has been cut off.

"It's very critical that, I have to have a phone."

The cell service they have, Marsha tells us, is at best unreliable. Spotty service, especially in the house. She and her mom say most of the time, it's hard to hear through their flip phone.

Which is why that now disconnected landline, is so critical, for medical emergencies, of which, there have been many.

"If I happen to fall, I could hurt myself very badly."

But a couple of months ago, with the cost of almost everything they need shooting sky high, Marsha and her mom weren't able to afford the increasing $107 monthly bill for the landline.

And after missing the payment for another month, the company cut them off.

"It's life or death, that's what it is, it's life or death," Marsha tells us, fighting back tears.

It was certainly difficult enough, they say, before those staggering price increases. But now, they tell us, they're forced to make even more difficult decisions, life-changing decisions.

How do they spend the little money they receive each month, the $842 between both of them? Money is already spread so very thin.

"It's awful. If we should eat, or if we should pay our bills first, or what, it's hard."

After Marsha and her mom told us their story about their landline, we did some digging and were able to help them cut through some red tape.

We connected them to folks at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, who are helping hook them up with the communication services, they need, that they can afford.

"They could essentially get their internet for at no cost to them, as well as their phones when you combine the two programs it works out to they wouldn't be paying anything. It's possible," Matt Skinner, spokesperson for the OCC says.

We found out the electric cooperative serving Marsha's area, is now providing broadband service over their powerlines.

And Marsha and her mom would qualify for financial help to pay for the service, which would include an internet-based type landline.

"That would help me a great deal."

Critical phone service, that would sound like Marsha and her mom are living in a big city, and not a tiny town.

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