PUCO Staff Petitions for Complaint

Public Utility Commission of Ohio Staff submits letter to Commission asking for formal complaint

(COLUMBUS, OHIO) – The Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) staff filed a letter with the Commission in support of opening a complaint against Frontier North, Inc. (Frontier). The request centers around their low quality service since acquiring Verizon North, Inc. in 2010. The letter claims that Frontier failed to meet service standard in the 3 years following the acquisition and beyond, in violation of law. Between January 1, 2018 and July 31, 2019, the staff received 2,802 contacts regarding Frontier.

Pickaway County 9-1-1 services experienced several recent outages, and County officials are saying the root causes were Frontier outages. We covered the 9-1-1 issue extensively in a story on July 29, 2019. At the time,  County Commissioner Brian Stewart said, “It’s frustrating. It’s out of our hands, as the failure is occurring in the phone system. The 9-1-1 service system has had many updates over the last few years. It’s up to date and well maintained. Regardless of tech upgrades, the 911 system relies on a phone system working.”

Pickaway County Sheriff Radcliff said, “We’ve followed through with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. We’ve filed complaints.” He added,  “We’re already stressed and taxed enough in the jobs that we do, and when we’re dealing with people’s lives, and the dispatchers are dealing with these issues that are out of their control, it’s frustrating.”

According to the letter, many areas in Ohio still rely solely on basic local exchange service (BLES) for phone service, including 9-1-1 and other high priority uses such as doctors, hospitals, and pharmacists. The staff requests that the Commission open a formal complaint and begin investigating the issue. They list 33 specific complaints of consumer outages; 1 consumer indicated their service had been out for 8-9 weeks. According to Mark Schilling, Director of the Office of Public Affairs for PUCO, if the commission acts on the request, “It would compel Frontier to respond to the allegations and likely hold a hearing on the matter.”

The letter is signed by Robert Fadley, Director of Service Monitoring and Enforcement Department at PUCO. Fadley concludes with, “It is essential to promote and carry out the state policy of ensuring the availability of adequate BLES or voice service for public safety purposes. Without adequate, available, and reliable BLES service, the inability to contact first responders through 9-1-1 becomes a major statewide concern.”

The Commission will meet tomorrow at 1:30 PM at 180 East Broad Street in Columbus Ohio. The meeting will be broadcast live at on PUCO’s live youtube stream. More information about the Public Utility Commission of Ohio can be found at their website.

You can see the full letter here: http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/TiffToPDf/A1001001A19H13B64509E02301.pdf

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