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Phone providers hold meeting

A meeting at the state Public Service Commission to size up the status of landline phone service in West Virginia since Frontier Communications' acquisition of Verizon's network "was very substantive," said Byron Harris, who heads the commission's Consumer Advocate Division.

"We went through a lot of issues - some of which have been resolved, some of which remain to be resolved," Harris said Thursday. "The problem is, in some ways, it's too soon to tell.

"Some glitches you have to expect whenever you have a big transition like this," Harris said. "It will be the quality and speed of Frontier's response that will really tell the tale. If, at this point next week, we have the same issues or a similar level of issues, then the alarm bells really go off."

Frontier, which already served more than 144,000 customers in 38 West Virginia counties, acquired about 617,000 landlines in 47 counties from Verizon on July 1. Frontier also acquired Verizon landline networks in 13 other states.

FiberNet, a carrier that depends on Frontier for some connections, has complained that although Frontier has been cooperative, the company hasn't been able to quickly resolve some problems.

Thursday's meeting, in a Public Service Commission conference room in Charleston, was closed to the public and the press.

Commission spokeswoman Susan Small said the meeting lasted from 1 p.m. to about 2:15 p.m. She said representatives of the commission staff, the commission's Consumer Advocate Division, Frontier, FiberNet, Citynet and nTelos attended.

Small said the first order of business was to decide how the meeting would be handled. "It was decided it would be treated like a settlement conference," she said.

Settlement conferences are strictly confidential. Small said she left that after that decision was made, but later noticed on the sign-in sign-out sheet that participants left about 2:15 p.m.

Harris said "because it was a confidential settlement conference," he is constrained in what he can say.

The participants may have a conference call next week to size up the situation, Harris said.

"At this point next week if we still have significant problems, then I would say things have to be ratcheted up, whether we get the commission formally involved or not. I think we have to decide that next week," he said.

"There has to be some recognition that there's a transition involved. It's a shame the customers have to go through this but a certain level of this is inevitable."

Frontier has said the vast majority of problems encountered since it acquired Verizon's landline network were inherited from Verizon.

Contact writer George Hohmann at or 304-348-4836.



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