BROADBAND PROMISES, BROADBAND DREAMS - Frontier Internet Down Or Intermittent, Frontier's New Pole War

(07/12/2017)

By Bob Weaver

Frontier Internet service has been down for a couple weeks for Calhoun customers, while intermittent in other areas.

A company spolesperson told a customer it might be fixed by July 20.

Customers need to ask for a credit on their phone bill, although most people will not

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, said he got a firsthand look at what he calls the “digital divide” when he just visited West Virginia.

Ajit Pai was the guest of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito.

The FCC is promoting federal subsidy programs and regulations to encourage companies to invest in broadband expansion, Pai said, but that requires local investment.

Capito introduced her latest Gigabit Opportunity Act or GO Act earlier this year. It calls for the streamlining of broadband laws, encourages investment in rural communities and defers taxes to promote that investment.

FRONTIER'S NEW POLE WAR

Frontier now says it uses, occupies or owns the majority of telecommunication poles in West Virginia, and that part of a new law recently passed by the Legislature could lead to “substantially less protection for Frontier and its customers.”

Frontier Communications has filed a lawsuit to prevent the enforcement of an article of House Bill 3093, known as the broadband bill, arguing that it conflicts with federal law and increases the chances of an interruption or outage for customers.

“It simply opens up the opportunity for a provider to service a territory,” said Delegate Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay. “It’s frustrating that this is seen as an issue, because the whole motivation behind the bill is to provide service to so much of the state that doesn’t have adequate service.”

Hanshaw said he has not looked through the lawsuit in detail but that those involved with the bill were assured that the bill did not have any potential conflicts with federal law. The bill requiring approval by pole owners should satisfy any federal issues, Hanshaw said.

“I think this is just sour grapes by Frontier,” he said.

Frontier, which opposed the pole attachment aspect of the bill throughout the legislative session, said it uses, occupies or owns the majority of telecommunication poles in West Virginia. The enforcement of Article 4 could lead to “substantially less protection for Frontier and its customers,” according to the lawsuit, and increase the risk of interruptions and outages.

“Many of the new attachers are direct competitors of Frontier, and may have little or no incentive to avoid damaging Frontier’s network facilities and other property,” the lawsuit states.


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