West Virginia Delegate Randy Smith, R-Preston, is accusing the GOP-controlled House of Delegates leadership of refusing to run bills that will improve high-speed internet in the state because the legislation could harm Frontier Communications. The delegate says special interests are standing in the way of what is right for citizens.
In a press release posted to Randy Smith's Facebook page on February 15, he alleges that House GOP leadership told him last week that two bills related to broadband internet service that Smith has introduced "will go nowhere because it will hurt Frontier." Although the Republican lawmaker has not named who made the statement, he will name names if it comes to that, according to The Charleston Gazette.
"It was one individual. He said leadership wouldn't support this because they feel like it's targeting Frontier. If it comes to the point I have to, I'll give names. I know you're wanting names."Smith has introduced two bills related to high-speed internet in the Mountain State. One, HB2551, would prohibit internet service providers from advertising "high-speed internet" unless the company actually provides download speeds of 10 megabits per second or higher. The second bill, HB2552, would allow WV consumers to take billing disputes to the attorney general if the Public Service Commission refuses to review the complaint. Smith maintains that Frontier will not have to offer download speeds of 10 megabits or higher. The company can provide slower speeds, but they could not advertise those speeds as "high speed."
The delegate's bills do not specifically target Frontier Communications; however, Frontier is WV's largest internet service provider and the only service provider available to many consumers who live in rural areas. Because many consumers are limited to only Frontier, the company spokesperson, Dan Page, tells The Charleston Gazette that passing Smith's bills would have a negative impact on further development of broadband services in the state.
Although Frontier maintains they have spent millions to bring high-speed internet to the rural communities of West Virginia, the company is being accused of not providing the advertised speeds sold to customers. As Delegate Smith points out, download speeds in some areas are ridiculously slow, worse than dial-up, and frustrating.
"Anyone who knows me is well aware of my longstanding frustrations with Frontier. I regularly conduct speed tests on my Internet connection and the results are laughable. I've had download speeds of around 0.20 megabytes per second. No wonder they're called Frontier. Those are the kinds of speeds you'd expect on the American frontier in the 17th century."Smith is not the only one disgruntled with the company's services and false advertising in West Virginia. Consumers filed a class action lawsuit against the Frontier late last year for advertising and selling download speeds that it is not providing.
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