FLASHBACK 2011: CALHOUN HAS WORST WV 'BROADBAND' SPEED - Frontier Hedges On Broadband Plans For Regional Counties

(04/06/2012)

FRONTIER PLEDGED 3 MEGABITS DOWNLOAD SPEED

By Bob Weaver January 2011

According to the independent Speedmatters.org, Calhoun has the poorest "broadband" speed of any of the 55 counties, with about 30 tests.

Finding out what broadband improvements will be made in Calhoun and the regional six counties (Gilmer, Clay, Braxton, Roane, Wirt, Ritchie) is like pulling teeth, following broad announcements by Frontier to bring the rural areas of the state into the 21st Century.

US Senator Jay Rockefeller says he's been fighting a 15 year battle for high speed Internet, with West Virginia one of the least connected states in the nation with some of the worst broadband speeds.

Rockefeller, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, says it shouldn't be that way.

He says he is trying to force telecommunications companies like Frontier and Comcast to make high speed Internet available to everyone in the state, not just those who live in cities.

There's a big problem with providers selling "broadband," when the speed is sometimes just a few notches above dial-up.

"If you're born rural that doesn't make you less interested or less intelligent than if you're born urban," Rockefeller said.

"There's been a lot of wonderful statements made...The progress has been very slow," saying it is school age children who need it most, putting aside promises made in the 1990s about locating a business, no matter where your feet are planted.

High-speed broadband is suffering the same dilemma that rural areas have faced for a hundred years, related to economic growth, getting infrastructure - like roads.

Frontier Communications said they will make high-speed Internet available to 85 percent of its customers in West Virginia by the end of 2011, spending $48 million for aggressive broadband expansion.

Frontier executives did not respond to a request to specifically define what broadband improvements are planned for Calhoun and the six regional counties, after promising to do so.

Following a letter to Frontier regarding their promise   INTERCEPTED LETTER - Calhoun's Broadband Woes, Frontier Falls Short   company general manager Mitch Carmichael and regional general manager Mike Sims forwarded technical documents defined as a confidential business plan, about 200 pages, indicating they could be evaluated or interpreted.

The Hur Herald maintained Frontier's plans could be defined in a few paragraphs, so the public understands what improvements will be made.

Earlier, Senior VP Dana Waldo said, "Frontier is going to transform this state."

Frontier signed an agreement with the WV Public Service Commission to bring broadband download speeds of at least 3 megabits per second to 85 percent of customers by the end of 2014.

Current broadband speeds in Calhoun County are far below the 3 megabits per second, and are generally not sufficient to conduct business operations.

Frontier's public relations have since come up short in clearly defining their 3 megabit agreement.

The selling of "broadband" has not been monitored or enforced to be the real deal, resulting in a "pig in a poke" purchase depending on where one lives.

Still, customers are charged the same rates as where they do get a real deal.

While the public relations stroking has been good, the stonewalling of clearly defining broadband improvements remains questionable.

Frontier customers who frequently experience sub-standard or disconnected broadband service should consistently call the company and ask for credit on their bill.


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