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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsPSC Raises Concerns About Cell Phones and Internet

PSC Raises Concerns About Cell Phones and Internet

Dropped calls and delayed texts are headaches for territory residents. (Shutterstock image)

Public Services Commissioner Laura Nichols-Samms listed residents’ complaints with Liberty VI., including dropped calls, delayed texts, and poor customer service. And that was just the beginning of the concerns raised by commissioners to Ravindra Maywahlall, the recently appointed manager for operations in the territory.

Vice Chair of the Commission David Hughes wanted to know why Liberty is having problems implementing the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect USVI initiative. The project’s design includes a fiber-to-the-home standard to increase speed. When completed, it should deliver a resilient network with improved performance to which any home in the territory can connect.

Liberty has been before the commission before and said that the problem with the project is that the Public Works Department is failing to issue permits for the project promptly.

Maywahlall repeated the claim that the project was delayed because permits were not issued. He said, “If the permits are not approved quickly, the project will be in jeopardy.”

Hughes said he had heard a different story from DPW Commissioner Derek Gabriel. Hughes said he heard that DPW hesitated to issue permits because of the quality of work that Liberty was performing.

Maywahlall said a third party had been hired at Liberty’s expense to monitor Liberty’s work. He said the monitor gave reports to DPW, and then DPW told Liberty that it needed to be corrected.

In 2021, Broadband VI was awarded $84 million by the Federal Communications Commission for the Connect USVI project. The grant has been transferred to Liberty VI.

PSC Commissioner Raymond Williams said the problem was a communication problem because all the management team, except Maywahlall, lived in Puerto Rico.

Commissioner Clement “Cain” Magras urged Maywahlall to hire local people for management positions.

As for customer service problems, members of Maywahlall’s team admitted that there were many as Liberty took over AT&T’s system. The person in charge of the retail stores said that, at times, the stores were “overwhelmed,” and everyone could not be let into the stores because of fire marshal regulations. She said the situation is now under control with fewer complaints. The company currently has three stores on St. Croix and four on St. Thomas. Hughes criticized the company for not even having a kiosk on St. John. “Do something. Put someone in a supermarket there. I want to hear within a week or two that you have a presence there,” he said.

Commission Executive Director Sandra Setorie reportedly was texting on her phone to get more information during the Liberty discussion, but her texts were not going through.

Commissioners attending the meeting were Pedro Williams, David Hughes, Laura Nichols-Samms, and Raymond Williams. Sens. Carla Joseph and Marise C. James were also in attendance.

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