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City requests Attorney General’s help with Internet provider

Washington Mayor Donald Sadler has joined a request to state Attorney General Josh Stein in response to mounting complaints against Suddenlink Communications, owned by parent company Altice USA.

Last month, Tarboro mayor Joe Pitt sent a letter to Stein in response to complaints over the Internet service provider. New Bern mayor Dana Outlaw has publicly expressed interest but has not drafted a letter yet. The activity prompted Sadler to take action.

“I had people ask me how I was going to help them deal with Suddenlink when I was campaigning for city council in 2019,” Sadler said. “I spoke with Mayor Pitt and Mayor Outlaw and decided it was something we as a city should get behind. Our city council signed off on it, so we will see what happens.”

The letter requests that Stein’s office start an investigation into Suddenlink’s business practices and notes that the City receives constant complaints regarding poor service. Specific examples include rising costs, lack of access to service, excessively long outages, poor communication with customers in response to outages, failure to keep the equipment in good working condition, temporary fixes resulting in unburied or low hanging lines for extended periods, internet speeds substantially slower than advertised along with other issues.

“I’ve heard from our citizens or had a personal experience with all the problems in the letter,” Sadler said. “I think this is as good a time as any to get started on this. Big movements start small and hopefully our efforts will get Suddenlink’s attention, so their customer service improves.”

The letter also points out that COVID-19 has forced many citizens to work from home or go to school online, making affordable, reliable internet service even more important. It also states that Washingtonians are frequently denied access to information that could highlight educational or job opportunities.

“Suddenlink has a longstanding relationship with Washington and the many towns we serve throughout North Carolina and we are committed to delivering the best connectivity and support to our customers in the state,” according to a statement released through Altice USA Communications Manager Ashwin Bhandari. “This includes making investments in our network, products and services, with plans to introduce even faster broadband speed tiers in the region, the upcoming rollout of our advanced Altice One entertainment platform and through our Altice Mobile service, which is available at extremely competitive pricing for our customers. We have contacted the Mayor and will work to address any customer complaints as we continue to deliver high quality service and support to the area.“

City officials also informed the Attorney General’s office that they would continue to encourage citizens to contact state government so more attention is brought to the problem.

“We hope this helps Suddenlink’s service improve, but we’re also hoping another company will look our way and give them some competition,” Sadler said. “They shouldn’t have a monopoly in this situation.”