Windstream refutes 'unfounded' concerns about business DSL service shutdown

Many small businesses rely on legacy wireline services for voice and data, according to opposition comments, but Windstream says that ending DSL service will impact only a "small number of customers" in its CLEC territories. (Pixabay)

Windstream says the opposition raised by a number of local consumers and businesses about its request to discontinue DSL services it provides for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) via its competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) subsidiaries is based on “unfounded concerns.”

In a new FCC filing (PDF), Windstream said that the majority of the commenters are not current customers and “are not affected by the proposed discontinuance.”

Windstream, on behalf of its CLEC affiliates, filed an application in November to discontinue DSL services it offers to about 300 customers in 22 states, citing low subscribers and equipment that’s no longer supported by its vendor.

Low customer impact

The service provider noted that the discontinuance of DSL services “would impact a small number of customers who are served on equipment that is at the end of life, no longer supported by vendors and cost-prohibitive to replace.”

Windstream added that ending the DSL services will not eliminate local wireline services like plain old telephone service (POTS) “as the majority of commenters allege.”

RELATED: Windstream to discontinue SMB DSL service in CLEC territories, says equipment is no longer supported

One of the commenters said that “we do not want the FCC to allow carriers to discontinue wireline service—the safe and more dependable alternative to wireless service and VOIP systems and reverse mandates on carriers that have been in place to protect consumers for years.”

Another commenter noted the adverse health effects of having to replace landline voice service with wireless services.

“Wireless is inferior in comparison in each of these aspects—and the substantial and increasing number of clinical studies showing the detrimental health effects of exposure to wireless transmissions, on young children in particular, should be of grave national concern,” the commenter said in a response filing.

However, these commenters are not addressing the actual service that Windstream is looking to shut off, which is DSL, not POTS.  

Windstream is just one of many wireline providers in these areas and provided the DSL service by renting local network facilities from incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) like AT&T, CenturyLink and Frontier. These customers can purchase services from an ILEC or a local cable competitor.

Windstream said that the “ILECs are providing and will continue to provide wireline service to affected customers,” adding that the proposed discontinuance is not intended and does not result in customers having to rely solely on wireless services for their communications needs, as some commenters assert.”

Oppositions grow

Windstream is not the only service provider that has faced opposition following a service discontinuation request.

Fellow telco CenturyLink, which is looking to shut down its legacy Frame Relay (FR) and asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) services, also faced opposition from local customers over landline voice service.

In November, CenturyLink submitted a new application to the FCC requesting to discontinue its Frame Relay service and ATM services throughout all 50 U.S. states where it operates. Since many of its business customers have transitioned to IP-based Ethernet and other services, CenturyLink cited low usage and vendor equipment support as reasons to discontinue these two services.

CenturyLink said that none of the comments filed in response to the service provider’s petition to discontinue its FR and ATM “call into question the merits of CenturyLink’s Application.”