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Congressman continues pressure on Windstream to improve service

dougcollins

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Doug Collins sent a letter to Windstream CEO Tony Thomas to follow up on previous concerns and emphasize the growing number of complaints from Windstream customers in Northeast Georgia. Congressman Collins has been actively working to hold Windstream accountable since coming to Congress, and has repeatedly requested answers and demanded better service on behalf of his constituents.

This letter builds on issues addressed in Congressman Collins’ February letter, after Windstream failed to make substantial improvements. Congressman Collins issued the following statement on the letter:

 

“We keep hearing more and more excuses from Windstream. The reality is, there is a local fire department that is unable to adequately serve the community because of poor Windstream connections. There are people who are unable to operate businesses, or work from home, because of unreliable service. This is unacceptable.

   The Customer Service employees Windstream has on the front lines are well aware that they are working with an insufficient product, and they do their best to help customers, but the real problems are clearly with the infrastructure. There is a distinct possibility that the networks are over capacity, and utilize outdated technology.

   Because Windstream has preferred tax status from the IRS, and has accepted taxpayer money from the Connect America Fund, they need to be held accountable to Congress and Northeast Georgians. I look forward to discussing these issues in depth with Mr. Thomas in our meeting on May 9, and I will continue to push for answers until Windstream can show some progress in addressing the concerns of my constituents.”

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Pickens Resident
-1 #1 Pickens Resident 2016-04-27 11:40
DOUG COLLINS
9th District of Georgia
1504 Longworth
Office Building
(202) 225-9893
Committee on Judiciary

Committee on Rules

April 25, 2016


Mr. Havard George

Jasper, GA 30143

Dear Mr George,

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about Windstream’s service. I appreciate your feedback and input on this important matter.

You may be interested to know that I have heard concerns about Windstream’s service on numerous occasions and I have repeatedly demanded answers from the company. I have also engaged with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to voice these concerns. In fact, I wrote to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler, pointing out that Windstream received $175 million of Phase II Connect America Funds (CAF-II) to spur investment in rural broadband in their communities. Reports from my constituents led me to question if that Windstream has met their obligations under CAF-II. Among these requirements are broadband network speeds of 10/1 Mbps and building out broadband services to 100 percent of the funded area by the end of 2020. I also understood that Windstream voiced concerns about their ability to meet the speed requirements prior to accepting the funds.

On November 12, 2015, I received a response from Chairman Wheeler. In the letter, the FCC’s “rigorous buildout and reporting” requirements for recipients of CAF-II funding listed above were reaffirmed. Additionally, the letter noted that all recipients of CAF-II funding will report to the FCC on their progress on an annual basis beginning in 2016, with the Universal Service Administrative Company – the administrator of the CAF-II funding – conducting audits to ensure compliance with program rules. In the event of Windstream’s non-compliance with the requirements for receiving funds, they will be subject to funding reductions in accordance with the scale of their non-compliance.

After continuing to receive complaints from a number of my constituents about Windstream’s poor service, I wrote a public letter to the CEO of Windstream Tony Thomas on February 11, 2016. The letter reflected on Windstream’s unsatisfactory and substandard service to their customers in Northeast Georgia, as well as their continued underperformanc e despite the federal government’s involvement. In my letter, I expressed that Windstream’s federal funding justifies Congressional oversight, especially because little has been done to improve service quality despite continued complaints from customers. I invited Mr. Thomas to answer questions about whether or not his networks were at over-capacity, how Windstream was progressing in changing to modern fiber, the percentage of fees used to upgrade infrastructure, and the percentage of tax savings from Windstream’s preferred government status that were used for broadband upgrades.

On February 29, 2016, I received a response from Mr. Thomas. Although he assured me that a ‘rapid response team’ was being established in Cornelia to address customer service concerns, this isn’t simply an issue of poor customer service. I have long been aware of the shortcomings of Windstream, and they were further confirmed when Mr. Thomas wrote me in January 2015, stating that they “have some catching up to do.” Yet little, if anything has improved. It is unacceptable that the federal government has given Windstream both federal funding and preferred tax status when they continue to provide service that is woefully inadequate to their customers. Until Windstream takes their responsibility to rural communities seriously, I will continue to hold them accountable for how they spend federal funds.

Rest assured that I am committed to holding Windstream and any business accountable for their use of CAF-II funds. Please know that I will continue to hold their feet to the fire and will provide updates on the situation as soon as they occur. I understand the importance of access to reliable broadband in this modern day and age and it is important to me that Windstream delivers on its promise to provide reliable internet service to you.

I would also encourage you reach out to the FCC to register your concerns. You can file a complaint with the FCC at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us or call them at 1-888-225-5322.

Again, thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts. I look forward to updating you in the near future and resolving this issue. Please continue keeping me informed of the issues that matter to you.

Sincerely,

Doug Collins
Member of Congress
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http://dougcollins.house.gov
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kitty
-2 #2 kitty 2016-04-29 13:03
Too bad he couldn't use that "pressure" on himself and other congress members to stop the Chromnibus which gave funding to Planned Parenthood, Amnesty and unvetted refugees, along with higher spending. Doesn't sound conservative to me. Priorities sir.......
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