CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Twenty-eight members of the state Senate have signed a letter addressed to the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai asking him and the FCC to take a very close look at Frontier Communications’ bid for broadband funds through a recent FCC auction.
The senators said their excitement about Phase 1 of the auction of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) was “short-lived” when it learned $245 million of the $362 million had been awarded to Frontier. Nine providers were chosen overall for the funds set aside for West Virginia.
“Frontier Communications is a bankrupted company with a poor record of performance, bad customer service ratings, and a trouble history involving the previous utilization of millions of taxpayers dollars,” the letter said.
Senate Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, speaking on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline”, said Frontier has broken any goodwill it had in the state because of its performance.
“Do we really want to put 70% of these funds into a bankrupted company that’s had a poor record of service?” Carmichael asked.
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) December 17, 2020
He said the FCC made its initial decisions based on a short-form application. He said the companies chosen in the auction will now have to give more detailed information about their plans. Carmichael said the senators are asking the FCC to put Frontier’s application through “intense scrutiny.”
“Please put them through all of the necessary components to make sure that their long-form application comports with the amount of broadband services they intend to deliver in West Virginia. We’re absolutely convinced that it will not,” Carmichael said.
Frontier told the state Public Service Commission in April, in answer to an audit of its service record, that it was “willing to implement” multiple changes in its operations in West Virginia.
The PSC audit covered the status of the company’s copper network — including staffing and capital investment — as well as company policies and metrics determining the quality of service. Schumaker & Company Inc. submitted the audit on March 18.
Frontier Communications took over the Verizon landline network in 2010.
Carmichael said the senators letter to the FCC is in support of a similar letter from U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito.
Carmichael previously said around 121,000 homes would be impacted by the expanded coverage through RDOF.
Companies that are ultimately chosen will receive funding for 10 years for completing the project, yet have four years to complete work.