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Monday, January 30, 2023

HomeNewsArchivesIs the Public Services Commission for Real??

Is the Public Services Commission for Real??

Dear Source:
Its an outrage how the PSC reaches decisions. FACT: the PSC is greatly responsible for prohibiting the residents of the Virgin Islands from getting, using and enjoying the latest in telecommunication technologies. They should be very proud of their efforts in inhibiting progress and deserve kudos for keeping the territory in the dark ages of telecommunication.
We may all need educating, but I thought that the Public Service Commissions in any state or U.S. jurisdiction was responsible for protecting the best interests of consumers – not the utilities. It is interesting to note that the U.S. Department of Transportation classifies the Virgin Islands as urban, yet our PSC annually certifies the territory as rural (I wonder why?) All public utilities must follow the public right-of-way, which happens to be our roads, which are classified urban.
Ah, there is that question of a 100,000 lines. Who counts them? How are they classified? Does the government have, for example, 100 telephone lines or is it considered as one subscriber? Does the PSC make sure that the $14 million in federal subsidy that the telco gets from their certification of being rural is used to upgrade the system each year? Why then have we not had ISDN service? Why can't bomb threat calls be traced? Why isn't there a separate 911 circuit for each island? Why every time it rains our phones are out of service? Why does the average cost of a T-1 on the mainland cost about $379 and $1500 here? Nationally, cable modem T1 service cost the home user $34 a month. Why don't we have cable modems?
Globally telephone, radio, TV and Internet services have converged and are being deployed daily by cable, Internet and telephone companies with VOIP*, IPTV**, and VOD***. Behold! The PSC doesn't think we need or want it. Well hello! The V.I. government is building wireless networks and slowly deploying VOIP to get its work done because "we are sorry, all circuits are busy," and circuit tariff rates are too high for common videoconference service. Education would be totally dysfunctional if it depended on the telecommunication services currently available in the territory. The PSC has no clue that its decisions have an impact on education in the territory. May be they don't care.
The PSC is doing such a fine job that they have let a particular part of the cable franchise law disappear. Remember that the cable companies had to have a public access channel. Where did those go? How does the little man get heard? Remember Channel 13 on St. Croix, which carried many community programs. Ask the PSC what happened to it? Poof! Why sometimes can one, two or three different cable channels be "off the air" at least one night per week while we pay supposedly for 50 or 52 channels? "Me ain't know!"
Basically, the ruling by the PSC against Wireless World and Choice Communications is emphatically telling the Virgin islands public that the PSC doesn't think that the consumer deserve a choice in what services they can buy. It is a slap to the public to consider them not sophisticated enough to decide for themselves. Further, it is despicable to hold the territory hostage to such poor telecommunication service in general.
There is a new device on the market (about the size of the old cable converters) that gives the user HDTV quality on a regular TV. It also allows the user to record up to 300 hours of video while viewing other channels. It also lets the user answer their phone while viewing or even videoconference all on broadband. But guess what? The PSC says that you don't need or deserve it – because of the ruling they made last week. "Tek that." (*VOIP- voice over Internet protocol; **IPTV- Internet protocol television; ***VOD- video-on-demand)
Robert Schuster
St. Croix

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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