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Frontier must lease fiber to rival Citynet, PSC rules

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Over its strong objections, Frontier Communications must lease part of its fiber-optic cable network to rival Citynet, according to a state Public Service Commission ruling that could boost competition for high-speed Internet service in West Virginia.

Last week, the commission upheld most of an administrative law judge’s decision that requires Frontier to lease unused fiber to Citynet in several rural communities, including Philippi, Buckhannon and Elkins.

The dispute between the Internet providers has lasted since August 2014, when Citynet filed a complaint against Frontier at the PSC. Citynet has argued that Frontier’s refusal to honor agreements to lease fiber to Citynet and other Internet providers has stifled competition.

“The Public Service Commission has taken a tremendously positive step for improving telecommunication services in the rural markets throughout the state, which is desperately needed,” said Jim Martin, Citynet’s CEO. “We feel vindicated by [the commission’s action].”

In appealing the administrative law judge’s decision, Frontier asked the PSC to bar Citynet from using the unused fiber to provide broadband Internet service…

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