The recently approved agreement by the North Dakota Public Service Commission has asked CenturyLink to improve their phone service to some of the western North Dakota communities. In addition to that, the agreement also contains a $2.66 million commitment in infrastructural developments.
This new agreement was introduced after a series of formal complaints, which was filed against the provider by the commission for the service they are offering to customers. In a press release, Commissioner Randy Christmann said that, “This settlement shows a major commitment from CenturyLink to improve service to their customers by rehabilitating their cable network and installing more fiber. Taking care of their staffing shortage problem seems to already be making a noticeable improvement.”
He also added that this marks the first time in last four years where the Public Service Commission has stepped in to resolve the issue related to the service from a telecom provider. However, the Commission advocacy staff claimed that the provider has violated the quality of service requirements for telecommunications companies, as they didn’t address any issues such as when the customers complained that their phone lines were not working.
About 28 customers contacted the Commission and complained that the provider has failed to address issues related to their phone service more than a few times. Reports also indicate that CenturyLink has a shortage of staffs in Western North Dakota region. Furthermore, the company doesn’t have any offices in the western side of the state currently.
Commission Chair Julie Fedorchak said, “Customers in these areas went far too long without adequate telephone service, so this resolution is much needed and long awaited. The good news is these investments will resolve the telephone issues and significantly enhance broadband services for this area as well.”
In the settlement, CenturyLink has promised to replace or rehabilitate their phone cable routes in the Fairview, Mont. exchange and Belfield exchange. The company also guaranteed that they will expand fiber in the region and they plan to use the Federal funding of $1.2 million to accelerate the fiber construction in Belfield area.
In addition to that, CenturyLink also ensured that the company would increase the number of staffs in North Dakota to offer timely response and adequate coverage to customers. The company is also looking to considerably improve their communication with customers when they call to report a problem.