Town's complaint against telecom giant heard by administrative judge.
Public Utilities Commission Administrative Judge Harris Adams reads an article in the Dec. 9 edition of the Silverton Standard during a hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 14, at Town Hall to determine if it should be admitted as evidence in the Town of Silverton’s complaint against telecom giant Qwest. He may have enjoyed the paper, but he ruled the evidence was not admissible.
Despite repeated promises from Qwest officials in 2003 that the microwave telecommunications link to Silverton would soon be replaced by a fiber-optics line with exponentially greater capacity, the company ultimately failed to provide the improved connection and left the town dangling at the dead-end of an information mule trail.
That’s what Silverton officials and a technical expert testified to during a 2-day Colorado Public Utilities Commission hearing at Town Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and evidence in the form of a series of e-mails from 2003 back up the claim.
And Qwest officials didn’t dispute that assertion, but instead made the case that they didn’t have to provide the upgrade in the first place, despite a $37 million contract with the state to connect every county seat to such a network.
Silverton was thus left as the only one of 64 county seats in the state without a fiber-optics link, leaving the town to suffer poor connections to process credit cards during the peak tourist season and crippling its economic development efforts, according to Pat Swonger, town trustee and coordinator of Operation Linkup, the community drive to improve telecom services here.
And, as a result, the community’s emergency 911 service was also left at risk of failure, according to testimony from an expert in that realm.
But Qwest witnesses insisted they are in compliance with state regulations regarding standard of service and that the microwave link already has excess capacity and even more capacity could be easily added.
The hearing, conducted by PUC Administrative Judge Harris Adams in a packed Town Council chambers, brought to light a series of e-mail exchanges dating from 2003 in which state officials, along with Qwest representatives, assured the town that the microwave link would be a temporary fix and that the proposed fiber-optics connection was still in the pipeline.
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