Losing internet and phone service when it rains, losing service at 4 p.m. every Sunday and slower-than-promised internet speeds were just a few complaints at a Frontier public hearing at the Lakeville Heritage Center last week.
“I keep hearing things that everyone has said and I keep shaking my head because it’s exactly right on,” Rebecca Carson said.
She has lived in Montgomery, about 20 minutes south of Jordan, since the late 1990s and said Frontier is her only option for a provider. Phone service is crucial for her, since she lives in a rural area.
She said her phone service has been interrupted by storms and it would take several days to fix. Her internet service is spotty, as well, she added.
Carson took photos of utility boxes with exposed wiring throughout the winter near her home.
“I’m very frustrated,” she said. “This is a public utility and you can’t choose, I have a cell phone, but when phone lines are down... those are emergency situations when you live five miles from town — it’s not OK.”
James Fisher, Carson’s husband, said he hasn’t seen upgraded infrastructure in his area since the 1990s and said copper wiring doesn’t yield good internet service.
“Internet speeds drop out and it gets so slow at times that I’m really concerned that if we don’t unplug the computers it may create a vacuum and suck the cats out of the house and such — it gets really slow,” he joked.
Fisher said it seems as though technicians “are sent on a hopeless mission” because of poor infrastructure, he said.
Jeff Oxley, an administrative law judge with the state Office of Administrative hearings, ran the meeting and took notes as about 14 customers rattled off complaints about the telecommunications company.
“We recognize that many of you wouldn’t be here tonight unless you probably had some kind of service issue with Frontier, and maybe had some troubles with our customer service,” Kevin Saville, Frontier Communications attorney, said at the Lakeville meeting. “And for that, we apologize that you’ve had those problems.”
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission started its investigation in April after “receiving a large volume of complaints related to the service quality, customer service, and billing practices of Frontier Communications,” according to a regulatory filing. The PUC had at least 439 comments about Frontier by March.
Unlike, telephone, cable and broadcast services, states, overall, cannot regulate internet services and speeds. So the PUC may not be able to offer much help to customers with spotty internet service.
Public hearings were held in Ely, Wyoming, McGregor, Slayton and Lakeville.
Jordan customers have also had issues with the telecommunications company. Wendy Rasmussen, who lives 10 minutes from downtown Jordan, has been a customer for the past 19 years. She said technicians didn’t show up for appointments, and she was left without internet for a week.
The telecommunications company has about 100,000 customers in Minnesota, according to Saville.