Ohio ISP admits lying to FCC about its fiber service area to squash rival expansion grants

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,779   +1,202
Staff member
Shady: We've all been suspicious of cell and internet coverage maps. Every provider claims to have the best coverage, which is impossible, so there is good reason not to trust any of them. But fudging their coverage borders is more than just about getting your business. Some ISPs are laying undue claim to competing service providers' regions to prevent them from receiving grants to expand and improve local area broadband.

Ohio ISP Jefferson County Cable (JCC) accidentally snitched itself out to the Federal Communications Commission recently for claiming coverage in an area it did not service. It started when Ryan Grewell, general manager for local rival provider Smart Way Communications, got calls from some of his customers saying that an updated FCC broadband map listed their addresses as having fiber internet service offered by JCC.

Smart Way services these addresses, not JCC, so Grewell submitted several challenges to the FCC. At least one of the submissions got back to JCC executive Bob Loveridge. Thinking he was responding to the resident at the challenged address, Loveridge sent an email to Grewell admitting that his company lied to prevent its competitors from receiving grant money for fiber development in that area. Grewell shared the communication with Ars Technica.

"You challenged that we do not have service at your residence and indeed we don't today," the January 9 email reads. "With our huge investment in upgrading our service to provide xgpon [10-Gigabit-capable passive optical network], we reported to the BDC [Broadband Data Collection] that we have service at your residence so that they would not allocate addition [sic] broadband expansion money over [the] top of our private investment in our plant."

Grewell didn't know whether to be outraged or amused.

"This cable company happened to just say the quiet part out loud," he told Ars over the phone. "[It's] a blatant attempt at blocking anyone else from getting funding in an area they intend to serve."

As far as anyone can tell, Jefferson County Cable has no announced plans to develop fiber in the area in question. Since the FCC multibillion-dollar expansion program's grant money is awarded where it is needed, JCC had to admit to the commission that it made a mistake and submit a correction.

Ars confirms that the coverage map was, indeed, updated. Unfortunately, it only excludes a single address in the contested area along Route 43. The homes next door and on the same street still show fiber service supplied by JCC.

Furthermore, the issue is even more widespread than a single Ohio town. Officials in Nevada discovered the FCC's map has at least 20,000 mistakes in their state. Likewise, Vermont reported over 60,000. Ars Technica notes that currently, there are over a million challenges to the FCC map nationwide.

If claims are looked at and responded to one at a time, who knows how long it could take to get the map fully corrected? Meanwhile, until everything is accurate, entire regions eligible for federal grant money to help expand and improve local infrastructure remain hostage to lying ISPs.

Permalink to story.

 

yRaz

Posts: 5,115   +6,707
Amateurs. Frontier Communications is the undisputed king of lying about their capabilities.
*Comcast quietly sits in the back of the in school suspension room.*
*time Warner throws a paper plane at the monitors, blames it on verizon*
"What, I didn't do that", Verizon says. "I wouldn't even be here if you didn't pass my cocaine weed vape to the hall monitor"
"Everyone shut up!" The FCC says. "Only reason youre in inschool suspension instead of being expelled is that we can't receive tax dollars without anyone in the school!"
 
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yRaz

Posts: 5,115   +6,707
The penalty should be to seize the lying company and sell it piece by piece to bordering competitors.
So that Verizon, Comcast and time Warner can buy it and create even less compitition?
I'm not saying I have a solution but you know that that is exactly what would happen
 

dangh

Posts: 908   +1,547
So that Verizon, Comcast and time Warner can buy it and create even less compitition?
I'm not saying I have a solution but you know that that is exactly what would happen
Verizon, Comcast and warner would be first to sell, so no worries;)
Ot:
That's why cables should be a standard infrastructure not belonging to isp.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 3,584   +4,630
Cable, phone and internet services should be considered public utilities like gas, hydro and water. What's happening here only serves to demonstrate that they shouldn't be provided by the private sector. They've become too important to society for that.
 

hwertz

Posts: 247   +145
Fraud charges? Seriously, JCC did commit fraud, and got caught red-handed doing it specifically to benefit themselves (I.e. not a mistake). Why not file some charges? Especially since, once they got caught at it, they removed the SINGLE address in the complaint and not the neighbors they continue to falsely and fraudulently claim they provide service to. I would propose a "slap on the wrist" fine the first time (since this is an all-to-common industry practice, just to let companies know this will no longer be tolerated..), second time a larger fine, third time potential jail time (since they probably can't come up with a big enough fine to make companies the size of Verizon or Comcast care, they may care about jail.)
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 3,584   +4,630
Fraud charges? Seriously, JCC did commit fraud, and got caught red-handed doing it specifically to benefit themselves (I.e. not a mistake). Why not file some charges? Especially since, once they got caught at it, they removed the SINGLE address in the complaint and not the neighbors they continue to falsely and fraudulently claim they provide service to. I would propose a "slap on the wrist" fine the first time (since this is an all-to-common industry practice, just to let companies know this will no longer be tolerated..), second time a larger fine, third time potential jail time (since they probably can't come up with a big enough fine to make companies the size of Verizon or Comcast care, they may care about jail.)
There are two reasons why no charges were laid:

#1 - JCC has money
#2 - Anyone with money in the USA is above the law

Therefore, no charges will be laid.