West Virginia Confronts Frontier

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UPDATE  Seeking information about the status of broadband delivery in West Virginia, the state legislature has voted to compel Frontier Communications to provide an update following its emergence from bankruptcy. As the Weirton Daily Times Reports, the Technology and Infrastructure Committee of the West Virginia House of Delegates agreed to formally request information and documents from Frontier.

West Virginia’s challenge comes on the heels of an FCC finding reported last month by Inside Towers. There are concerns at a federal level regarding Frontier Communications’ failure to meet build-out deadlines agreed to when providers like Frontier accepted government funds. The follow up at the state level is seeking specific information about progress, and when West Virginia can expect to find itself digitally connected. 

“The information and testimony the committee has requested is vital to our work to ensure that West Virginia is best positioned to maximize future investment and that regulated activities from telephone utilities are adequately performed moving forward,” stated committee Chairman Daniel Linville. “We hope that Frontier will comply with our request, but if not, the committee has unanimously approved a motion directing me to exercise the authority to command appearance and document production,” he added.

When Frontier accepted the Connect America Fund Phase II broadband expansion funds in 2015, the project was supposed to be complete by the end of 2020. Frontier scored $247.6 million in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I Auction, yet many of the 89,190 targeted locations in West Virginia remain unconnected.

The committee is also concerned about ongoing complaints about Frontier’s connection speeds, and how bankruptcy proceedings will impact ongoing broadband rollout plans. Linville also expressed misgivings about the agreement with the Public Service Commission that had Frontier agree to spend $50 million per year to extend high speed broadband to 150,000 West Virginia locations.

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