In many ways living in wonderful and wild West Virginia is a good thing but when it comes to competition, not so good.
Recently, I had a problem with my 'high-speed" Internet service, which is provided by Frontier Communications. I purchased a "streaming player" that allows me to play NetFlix movies on my television. To do so, a high-speed internet connection of 1.5 mgs is required. Lower speeds will cause constant interruption of the movie. I called Frontier to upgrade my speed and they processed the work order.
However, I soon learned that they could not deliver on the upgrade. Every minute, streaming movies were constantly being interrupted because the speed "guaranteed" was not the speed delivered.
After several weeks of contacting their local customer service office and other officials at their regional headquarters, I discovered that what Frontier promises to do is not what Frontier is able to do. They know how to accept the additional money; they just are unable to deliver the additional service. Moreover, I found that contacting officials of Frontier Communications to resolve issues is an exercise in futility. Most do not return phone calls and, worse, those who do are unaware of their equipment constraints. My research revealed that Frontier has inadequate equipment to deliver higher speeds, however, the equipment shortcomings can be fixed but at a cost that would be prohibitive due to an insufficient subscriber base.
My next option was to see if other providers in the area were available to provide the required high-speed connection. In this regard, I contacted Comcast Communications, the only other service provider in our area. Comcast does provide internet service for our area, but only for certain addresses listed in their survey database. Unfortunately, my address is not in their base. Again, the rural nature and low population density works against so many of us in West Virginia, when it comes to competition.
Proceeding with what I believe to be the next logical step, I contacted the West Virginia Public Service Commission to file a complaint for breach of contract. I paid extra money to upgrade my service; Frontier breached the contract by not providing the upgraded service. My complaint was initiated not to refund money from Frontier, it was to bring to light the inadequate options available to rural customers due to lack of competition. Guess what? The public service commission regulates the utility but not the internet service the utility provides. The only recourse is to contact the Attorney General. Can you imagine how far you would get with that as a remedy?
West Virginia is a great place to live, however, not a great place for competition.