Letter: Rhode Island needs a plan for reliable internet service

Posted 2/21/21

To the editor:

At around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17, Rhode Island Cox engineers reset internet access for customers across Newport county. They fixed something. Scores of residents who, for …

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Letter: Rhode Island needs a plan for reliable internet service

Posted

To the editor:

At around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17, Rhode Island Cox engineers reset internet access for customers across Newport county. They fixed something. Scores of residents who, for almost three weeks, had been suffering with unacceptably slow service — 10 megabits downstream and less than 600 kilobits up — suddenly had full 90/10 mbit speed restored.

Normally, this would be a cause for celebration.

But the question is why Cox customer service — all the way up to Northeast Executive Resolution — continued gaslighting customers when they knew a there was a network issue. Multiple customers were told that the problem was with aging modems and internal wiring. Cox refused to acknowledge an issue on their side and urged that technicians be dispatched for "home health checks" in the middle of a pandemic.

It was only after multiple residents had filed complaints with the R.I. Public Utilities Commission, the R.I. Attorney General, and the FCC, that Cox suddenly discovered a way to fix their system. Then they refused to issue blanket refunds to everyone affected, requiring instead that people call in one-by-one. This is no way to run a railroad.

Being threatened by both fiber and satellite, the impulse for existing cable internet providers is to retrench and wring every last marginal dollar from the customer, seeking lock-in through bundling phone, TV, and home automation at the expense of focused service delivery.

A bill just introduced in the Rhode Island House, H5148, would create a broadband council tasked with developing a strategic plan for providing reliable, 21st-century internet access. This incident with Cox provides ample evidence for the measure's necessity, and I urge folks to contact our legislators and urge their support.

John McDaid

65 Gormley Ave.

Portsmouth

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