April 9, 2005 – Access to DS3 high-speed telecommunication cable, as Innovative Telephone sees it, is different from the way Choice Communication sees it and they have been arguing the point for three years in front of the Public Services Commission. Valencio Jackson, PSC chairman, has had enough. He wants to see it resolved without wasting any more commission time.
Choice and Innovative representatives, in what has become almost a PSC ritual, were at the tables in front of the commission Friday making charges, presenting affidavits, court filings and exchanging cutting remarks. (See "Another Impasse Over DS3 Line Availability to Vitelco's Competition").
Jackson said, "The problem is that you are not talking to each other."
He urged the parties to begin talking to each other and he set a hearing May 20, when they will appear before him, acting as a hearing examiner. He said, "Right now, we are being asked to make a decision based on whatever the last piece of paper is lying on our desk."
In the midst of the ongoing bickering it might not be easy to make that decision. At the meeting, both sides even disagreed about whether they were talking to each other. Gregory Vogt, representing Innovative, indicated that there had been significant contact between the two parties. He said, "Vitelco believes it is in the best interest of both parties to settle, and discussion has taken place."
Maria Hodge, representing Choice, denied that there was any meaningful contact outside the meeting.
Vogt, representing Innovative, said during a break in Friday's meeting that it was all about a customer (Choice) trying to get inexpensive service.
Steve Parrish, an engineer and expert witness for Choice, said Saturday that it was all about Innovative offering to its customers the inexpensive and reliable service that all stateside telephone companies offer.
Vogt said at the meeting, "There is so little demand for this service, I can't understand why we are spending so much time arguing about it."
Parrish said there are many customers beside Choice who want the DS3 service, but "We are the ones fighting for it."
He said the service would offer connection speed about 30 times faster than dial-up connections and it should be attractive to banks, Internet service providers and the university.
Another sticking point between the two sides is what Innovative's costs would be to provide the DS3 service. Innovative says Choice's estimates are low and Choice says Innovative's are high.
Parrish says that Innovative is already using the DS3 in its business and therefore has an unfair, competitive advantage over Choice. Vogt did not deny that Innovative was using DS3.
Vogt said, "Our goal now is to sit down and talk."
Jackson said that one way or the other the issue would be resolved in May.
In addition to the DS3 access issue, the PSC had two other agenda items concerning the phone company.
The commission asked for a report from the phone company's financial officer as to why it was behind in paying $139,000 in assessments to the board.
The board also received an update on Innovative's legal fights. The report generated little discussion as no major decisions have been reached recently.(See "RTFC Says ICC Failed to Pay Bank $14 Million").
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