Lawyer: Law prevents panel from regulating internet services

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Despite pleas from some lawmakers, an official with the West Virginia Public Service Commission says it can’t regulate internet providers due to a state law passed five years ago.

The issue came up when five Democratic lawmakers wrote to the commission asking it to pressure Frontier Communications to improve and expand broadband services, the Parkersburg News and Sentinel  reported.

The commission can’t do that because of the 5-year-old law, commission attorney Linda Bouvette said in a response letter.

The panel has authority over phone service, but Bouvette said the 2015 law “specifically excluded internet services from the commission’s jurisdiction.”

That means it can’t require Frontier to improve its broadband service, Bouvette wrote.

Frontier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April and is reorganizing its debt. The company is expected to emerge from bankruptcy by early 2021. Ten states have approved its restructuring plan, but West Virginia has not.

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.