Lawyer: Legislation prevents panel from regulating web companies

Lawyer: Law prevents panel from regulating internet services

CHARLESTON, WV (AP) – Despite requests from some lawmakers, an official with the West Virginia Public Service Commission says they can’t regulate internet service providers because of a state law passed five years ago.

Parkersburg News and Sentinel report that the problem emerged when five Democratic lawmakers wrote to the commission asking it to pressure Frontier Communications to improve and expand broadband services.

The commission’s lawyer, Linda Bouvette, said in a reply that the panel could not do this due to the 5 year old law.

The panel is in charge of telephone service, but Bouvette said the 2015 law “explicitly excluded internet services from the Commission’s remit”.

That said, Frontier may not need to improve its broadband service, wrote Bouvette.

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

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