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Windstream's DSL Service Drop Proposal Draws Fire

By Edward Gately
January 10, 2017 - News

Windstream’s plan to discontinue DSL service it provides to SMB customers in CLEC territories across 22 states has prompted a barrage of complaints to the Federal Communications Commission. But the service provider says the comments aren't relevant.

In November, Windstream filed its application to the FCC to discontinue the service to about 300 customers in certain parts of Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

The service is being provided on equipment that is “at the end of life; it is no longer supported by vendors and replacement would be cost-prohibitive," Windstream said.

Since then, numerous comments from local consumers and businesses have been submitted to the FCC asking it to reject Windstream’s application.

One commenter said approving Windstream’s application would establish a “broad and precedential footprint allowing a communications provider to get rid of safe and reliable copper landlines when they so choose."

Some of the concern might be for what the company wants to cut next. Take the commenter, for instance, who said she installs personal help equipment for people in their homes using their telephone system.

“I do this mostly for elderly," she said. “Since 1978, Lifeline's product has worked fantastically with landline systems in the home. The move away from dependable landlines will greatly compromise the safety of elderly and others. Please do not discontinue landlines."

In a new FCC filing, Windstream said it has conducted two analyses to determine whether any of the commenters are affected by the proposed discontinuance.

“First, Windstream attempted to match the commenters’ names with the names of the customers affected by the proposed discontinuance," it said. “None was a match. Second, Windstream attempted to match the addresses of the commenters to the addresses of the customers affected by the proposed discontinuance. None was a match. After conducting these analyses, Windstream has a high degree of confidence that none of the commenters in this proceeding is a Windstream customer affected by the proposed discontinuance of service."

The proposed discontinuance also does not eliminate wireline services, the company said.

“As a CLEC, Windstream is one of many providers offering wireline service in these areas," it said. “In fact, Windstream leases last-mile facilities from the underlying ILEC to provide the services it is seeking to discontinue. The ILECs are providing and will continue to provide wireline service to affected customers. Windstream’s proposed discontinuance is not intended and does not result in customers having to rely solely on wireless services for their communications needs, as some commenters assert."

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