West Virginia’s Public Service Commission has told Verizon to plan for $72.4 million in landline service improvements over the next several years.
While on first inspection this isn’t the best news for the carrier, it’s actually a good sign for the company’s pending sale of landlines to Frontier Communications. The PSC wants the money set aside in an escrow account to be used to restore copper wire lines, hire more workers and maintain rights of way. The move is considered a precursor to sale approval, which is expected later this week.
Commissioners slapped Verizon’s hand a bit, saying the phone giant’s prior “efforts [to improve service] have been neither sufficient nor consistent.”
West Virginia has been the hotbed for controversy for the proposed $8.6 billion Verizon-Frontier deal, which involves the sale of landlines in 14 states. Labor unions and some consumer advocacy groups have rallied against the sale, saying jobs losses will be inevitable and Frontier will have to shoulder too much debt to properly manage its network and customer service obligations.
Supporters have insisted that the sale would boost state economies – West Virginia’s in particular – and help bring more broadband access to rural populations.
After getting approval from a handful of states last month, only nods from West Virginia and the FCC remain.