About 1,100 Southern Maryland homes lost phone service Thursday while Bell Atlantic replaced a section of cable that had been cut in four places during construction in Montgomery Village, said Michel Daley, a spokesman for the phone company.

Daley said Friday that some homes between Bel Alton and Cobb Island were not likely to have their phone service restored until noon yesterday, but most residents' service was reconnected by late Thursday night.

"This is an ongoing problem with contractors doing work in the area," Daley said.

When contractors prepare to bore into the ground, they are supposed to call Miss Utility, a service that locates underground lines and provides diagrams of utility cables, Daley said. In some cases, the service sends workers to mark areas for the contractors to avoid. Daley said Friday he was unsure whether the service was called before digging began in this incident.

Nina Voehl, Charles County government spokeswoman, said Bell Atlantic officials alerted Charles County Emergency Services that residents in the southern part of the county would be without phones while the company replaced a cable section. These were mainly phone lines with 753, 934 or 609 exchanges.

Loss of phone service in sparsely populated areas such as southern Charles County raises concerns about access to help during emergencies. Voehl said residents were told to drive to schools or fire departments for emergency aid.

"It doesn't sound like a lot, but 1,200 residents in that area is a lot of people," Voehl said.