Frontier lays off WV Senate president after broadband vote

West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael says he was fired as sales manager for Frontier Communications after the West Virginia legislature passed a broadband bill that Frontier lobbied heavily against.

The bill, which Carmichael voted for, was passed in April. Frontier laid off Carmichael in May.

Frontier released a statement to local publications saying that Carmichael’s dismissal was part of a previously announced layoff.

The company last November announced a layoff of 1,000 employees that would cut across sales, marketing and product management, pursuant to the acquisition of systems from both AT&T and Verizon. At the time, it said that employees who were being let go would be notified within weeks.

Carmichael worked for Frontier for a total of six years. He actually left the company last year, but he said the company asked him to come back. “They recruited me back to Frontier,” Carmichael told The State Journal in Charleston. “They desperately wanted me to stay. Then when this bill, which Frontier lobbied heavily against, passed, this action was taken.”

Carmichael called his vote “a sacrifice,” but worth it.

The bill was designed to encourage broadband access and broadband competition. It included a provision allowing up to 20 families and/or businesses to form non-profit cooperatives to build their own broadband systems; gave three cities the same option; and expanded access to utility poles, among other measures.

Frontier objected to the bill, consistent with the behavior of incumbent service providers all across the country confronting legislation to expand broadband activity to private individuals, municipalities or other local entities.

The bill was popular in West Virginia, which the FCC ranks 48th in broadband availability. The bill passed by a vote of 31-1 in the state Senate, and 97-2 in the house. It was signed by Gov. Jim Justice on April 26.