Manchin butting into the PSC

Apparently Joe Manchin thinks negotiating telephone deals is more important than negotiating a budget or laws through the Legislature. He’s had the administration “doing very little else for the last 10 days. Working with the companies, trying to get comfortable with the terms of the deal” between Frontier and Verizon.

Unfortunately, the PSC has been busy trying to work through this deal. The PSC has had meetings and received “thousands of pages of documents from proponents and opponents” and as soon as the Governor steps in, he stops all that process. There are deadlines to file briefs with the Commission, but now that Joe has butted in, nobody can do anything.

“Any agreement Manchin orchestrates would have to go back to the commission for approval to proceed. That probably would not be a problem.” I’m not sure I’m happy with that. Does the PSC represent the interests of the Governor or of the public?

Apparently Manchin wants WV wired for broadband across the state by 2010. He’s not likely to make that goal, But my question is: does he think that responsibility falls to the phone carrier? Typically, broadband coverage is a combination of wire and cable access.

Broadband coverage maps are a joke anyway. They don’t account for blank spots within a region that a cable or wire carrier claims they have coverage. DSL has a distance limit from a switch where it just quits working, so people up hollows that have phone service may just be too far away from the switch. OTOH, there are people in very high-rent subdivisions that don’t have cable because there’s not enough homes to make it worth the money to run cable (and internet) out to those homes. They already have satellite TV and get by with dialup. Is it Verizon’s responsibility to provide the high speed internet when the cable company says they just don’t want to bother?

There’s also figures that show that actual signups for broadband access are lower than normal in WV. A lot of people have it available, but don’t see the need or don’t want to spend the money. So it’s not just a problem of access (every school and library in WV has broadband), it’s a problem of interest.

What difference does it make if Frontier has a “92% reach” on broadband in the area it serves? Maybe it only serves a few square miles. Verizon has only “60% reach.” How much does Frontier think it’s going to cost to make up that other 38% over the state of WV? How long does it think it’s going to take?

The PSC wants to advise that Verizon front $300M in quality of service improvements. Frontier said it plans on spending $12M this year. There’s a big difference between those two figures and the amount of work they represent.

All Manchin wants to do is close the deal. The question is whether the deal will be good for the public.


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One Response to “Manchin butting into the PSC”

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