FTC Suing Frontier Communications for Misrepresenting Internet Speeds
During the May 26th Pocahontas Broadband Council Zoom Meeting, Mike Holstein announced that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing Frontier Communications for misrepresenting the Internet speeds it provides to its customers. Holstein said that while the State of West Virginia is not involved in this suit, he was contacted by Charleston Attorney Mark Plants who is looking to file a class action lawsuit against Frontier. Plants would like to speak with residents of Pocahontas County who have had an issue with Frontier not providing the Internet service they were promised and they expected. The contact number for Attorney Plants is 304-767-8523.
Also at this Broadband Council meeting, it was pointed out that the Ad-Hoc Committee is still reviewing the bids submitted by engineering firms. Once this committee identifies the firm they feel is best suited to supply broadband-related engineering services in conjunction with the Council’s Appalachian Regional Commission Power Grant application, they will pass their recommendation on to the County Commission who will make the final selection.
Mike O’Brien and Sarah Riley will be meeting with the volunteers who expressed a willingness to help the Broadband Council’s efforts. They will determine the skills and interests of the volunteers to determine what role each will perform. Some of the roles the volunteers could help with include: Survey collection – either through phone calls or physically meeting with people; completing missing information on the survey forms already received; volunteer management and organization; taking minutes; and public outreach.
Charlie sheets recommended contacting civic organizations such as the Lions and Rotary clubs to help get new surveys and new volunteers.
Amanda Smarr from Region 4 told the Council that the push to obtain more Internet speed survey data continues, and people who have already submitted their speeds should do it again since broadband speeds vary over time. Mike O’Brien said they have received speed survey information from just over three-hundred (300+) residences and businesses in the county out of six thousand nine hundred and thirty (6930) addresses with 911 physical addresses in the county. He said that of the three hundred plus surveys received, only two-hundred and thirty of those addresses were valid 911 addresses. O’Brien said the 911 Center staff will look at those non-valid 911 addresses and report back at the next meeting;
Council Members pointed out that the Greenbrier County Broadband effort is holding a community rally on June 4th to support broadband data collection and Cara Rose suggested that we should see how that goes and possibly do the same thing in Pocahontas County if it is successful there.
Region 4 has submitted a DLT Grant application to Senator Manchin’s office for a six-hundred-thousand-dollar ($600.000) Ear-Mark for the Board of Education to provide devices and distance learning services to students. This will also be submitted to Senator Capito next week.
Craig Murphy and Keli Ratcliff from Thompson and Litton (T & L) told the council that they continue to work to identify what areas and organizations in the county need to be prioritized to receive broadband expansion. T & L still has operating funds remaining from the Broadband Study Grant that was approved to enable the original Re-Connect Grant, which was ultimately denied, however that research still applies to the still pending Appalachian Regional Commission Grant and to other future grants that may be applied for.
Sarah Riley suggested that some members of the Broadband Council with knowledge of the needs of the county meet and provide that information to T & L. She also said that the ultimate goal remains to provide broadband coverage to all areas of the county, “one tier at a time.”
The next Broadband Council meeting will be on Wednesday, June 9th at 11:00 a.m.