CHARLESTON, W.Va. — March 4th is the deadline for bids from companies interested in reviewing the landline operations of Frontier Communications through a Focused Management Audit the state Public Service Commission has ordered.
Earlier this month, a request for proposals for the audit went out late which prompted a PSC response.
“The Commission issued an order that said, ‘Okay, guys, we’re serious about this. We want you to stick to the timeline and, if you’re going to have any additional problems, you need to let us know right away,'” said Susan Small, communications director for the PSC.
The state PSC initially called for the audit last year after receiving “numerous and increasing complaints” about the quality of Frontier service.
“We have 165 active complaints about phone service with Frontier in front of the Commission right now,” Small told MetroNews on Thursday.
“The Commission just wants to have people pick up the phone and the phone work.”
Frontier took over the Verizon network in 2010.
Under the order, Frontier has to pay for the audit from a qualified outside auditing firm.
The following is to be covered in it:
– the current status of the copper network;
– adequacy of staffing levels dedicated to the copper network;
– adequacy of capital investment in the copper network since 2010;
– adequacy of policies and procedures impacting the quality of service;
– adequacy of metrics currently in place to measure the quality of service;
– impact of the declining customer base on internal cash flow from operations relative to historic and current copper infrastructure maintenance and capital investment;
– and the impact of the current bargaining agreement and ongoing relations between management and labor on customer service quality and response timing.
“In the Focused Management Audit, they are trying to determine if Frontier is operating efficiently, utilizing sound management practices and to identify those areas where Frontier is not operating efficiently,” Small explained.
The audit is mandated to include recommendations for areas identified as needing improvement.
An adjusted timeline for the audit has been established and Frontier is being told to proceed without any additional delays.
In a previous filing, an attorney for Frontier Communications said Frontier stood “ready to work with staff.”
“Frontier intends to be open and to cooperate in good faith with staff, and naturally will expect the same in return.”
A PSC staff attorney wrote this in a Tuesday letter agreeing to the changes:
“Staff is concerned that Frontier management is not taking this Focused Management Audit seriously. To delay issuing the RFP by two weeks because certain members of management were unavailable or had limited availability is unacceptable when Frontier customers are without service for days, weeks and sometimes months at a time,” it read.
“The delay is further unacceptable in light of the fact that a number of 911 centers have been without service due to Frontier’s failure to timely maintain and/or repair its equipment or ensure the redundancy of its systems were in place.”
Small said Frontier’s phone service is critical for many West Virginians.
“We have a lot of pockets in the state that are not covered by cell phone service, so landline phone service is a lifeline for people. It needs to work,” she said.