News tagged: Frontier Communications
If a position flip flop by a Connecticut CWA union boss is any indication, Frontier's takeover of AT&T's landline operations in Connecticut just got quite a bit easier. CWA Local 1298 President William Henderson now says he supports the deal after opposing it previously
, complaining the two companies didn't offer much information. Frontier now promises there will be no layoffs until at least 2018 and that the company will healthcare coverage, pensions and a 401(k) retirement plan funding match for migrated employees. The two companies announced the $2 billion deal in December of last year
, with regulatory approval expected in the last quarter of 2014.Update
: After getting approval from the FCC, Frontier has announced they've Agreement with Connecticut Attorney General and Office of Consumer Counsel
. From the agreement:
Highlights of the agreement state that for a period of not less than 36 months after the closing of the transaction (i) there will be no increases in the basic primary residential rate in effect for transferred exchanges as of the closing date; and (ii) where available, Frontier has agreed to offer its basic broadband and stand-alone basic broadband product at or below Frontier's current prices.
In addition, Frontier has committed to incremental capital investments totaling $63 million over 2015, 2016 and 2017 to expand and improve broadband in Connecticut. Frontier will also accelerate its inspection of the outside plant it is acquiring, including telephone poles, to ensure the reliability and robustness of the facilities. Frontier has also agreed to a number of important measures aimed at simplifying and improving telephone pole administration within its Connecticut footprint.
We've consistently discussed the sorry state of broadband service in West Virginia, whether it was back when Verizon couldn't be bothered to make repairs
, or after Frontier purchased Verizon territories they couldn't afford to fully upgrade. To summarize for those not up-to-date with Frontier:
• Frontier has been outraged
at being forced to provide basic broadband speeds after receiving
millions from the state of West Virginia and the federal government
Last year Comcast started experimenting with
a prepaid broadband service that, for $70, provided users with an Internet startup kit and thirty days of 3 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream cable broadband service. After that, users have the option of paying either $15 for seven days of access or $45 for another 30 days. Not to be outdone, Frontier says they're now experimenting with a "seasonal" prepaid option of their own
. In Ohio, users can pre-purchase DSL service in increments of one, seven or 30 days, something Frontier insists is perfect for customers "who desire financial flexibility,...students, travelers, (and) low-income and credit-challenged customers."
While Verizon's legal victory over the FCC did gut the agency's net neutrality rules, it kept some of the FCC's authority over ISPs intact -- specifically the agency's transparency rules
-- which require that ISPs be straightforward about the "network management practices, performance, and commercial terms" of their broadband services.
In a statement issued today
, the FCC "reminded" wireline and wireless ISPs alike that those rules are still intact and need to be adhered to, lest the agency lightly slap a wrist or two -- maybe.
Last June Comcast announced
that the company's new customer gateways would be configured to start sharing user Wi-Fi with local passers by, noting that the service could be disabled and that other peoples' usage wouldn't count against your usage cap. Still, as Comcast launches this service in a market-by-market basis consumers in each market have responded with more than a little trepidation
at the concept of their router having a public component.
Frontier Communications wants to keep selling you landlines, but many users no longer have an interest in them. Frontier's solution? The company is introducing a new $5 (plus fees) a month landline option that will give consumers the reliability of a landline during power outages, but will only be able to dial 411, 911 or the operator
. "Our [service areas] are very prone to severe weather, lots of hurricanes, tornadoes and the mud slides in Washington State," Frontier CEO Maggie Wilderotter stated at a recent investor conference. "We have markets that are very plagued by bad weather and having a landline phone that works when your power goes out where we have a density of 34 homes a mile is important."
Frontier will be raising the price of their standalone DSL service by $5
starting on May first, and will also soon be raising prices for the company's remaining FiOS video customers (who they already worked hard to scare away with rate hikes
). "We increased the price [... because it] better reflects the value of that offering, given the robust capability of our network and comparable pricing from our competitors,” Frontier CEO Maggie Wilderotter told Wall Street analysts on a quarterly results conference call. Many Frontier customers, still stuck on sub 3-6 Mbps DSL lines for the foreseeable future, could take issue with Frontier's use of the phrase "robust capability."
For years the FCC has doled out money to telcos to help them expand telecom services, historically then being quite lax in accurately tracking how (or even if) that money was spent
. Companies like Frontier have also taken oodles of funds on the state level for broadband deployment, and in West Virginia Frontier faced a recent scandal
after the telco was accused of using taxpayer money on useless, over-priced consultants and over-priced fiber builds that didn't help anyone not named Frontier.
Now Frontier is balking at a recent FCC rule change
for Connect America funding that raised the minimum acceptable deployment metric from 4 to 10 Mbps if you want taxpayer money to help fund your DSL upgrades. Frontier, however, insists offering 10 Mbps simply isn't possible:
"Any proposal to raise the CAF Phase II minimum speed obligations of broadband used for CAF Phase II from 4 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload (4/1/) to 10 Mbps download without any increase in funding or other change in terms is not economically feasible," wrote Kathleen Abernathy, executive vice president of External Affairs for Frontier, in a recent FCC filing. "The FCC's own USF budget does not provide adequate funding for a 10 Mbps ubiquitous deployment."
Perhaps if the FCC and state governments audited Frontier's history with taxpayer funds
they might be able to help Frontier come up with the funding they need? Frontier faces little competition in the lion's share of their markets, allowing the company to historically overcharge for slow service and lag on needed network upgrades.
Netflix has released the company's latest month rankings
of ISP Netflix streaming performance. Not too surprisingly, the results show that Comcast Netflix streaming performance has improved two spots after Comcast and Netflix last month struck a new interconnection agreement
that eliminated middlemen like Cogent Communications from their transit routes.
Just days ago, Frontier Communications proudly let everyone know
that they had expanded broadband access to roughly 176,000 households in West Virginia and seen consumer complaints of their service drop by nearly 70 percent. That's slightly-less impressive once you realize that Verizon was doing little to nothing
to support those users, so you'd expect a significant reduction in complaints even if the acquiring company was doing the absolute bare minimum.
The FCC today voted unanimously to begin conducting voluntary trials to ensure a relatively smooth and reasonable transition away from the PSTN and copper networks. The push for such trials began in earnest after Verizon refused to repair the DSL and copper POTS lines of hurricane Sandy victims, instead forcing them to instead use an inferior wireless-based product
known as VoiceLink, which doesn't work with alarm systems, has numerous glitches, and doesn't provide data connectivity.
Frontier spent $8.5 billion in 2010 for Verizon’s DSL and landline customers, and is close to spending another $2 billion for AT&T’s Connecticut DSL and landline customers. As Karl noted several weeks ago, Frontier seems intent on growing just to grow
, without much concern for customer support scaling or being able to upgrade aging DSL lines.
Wall Street isn't exactly sure that Frontier's acquisition of AT&T's Connecticut operations, announced yesterday
, is a particularly good idea. One, the landline is dying.
Frontier Communications has announced that the company will be buying AT&T's fixed-line networks in Connecticut in a deal estimated to be worth around $2 billion. According to the companies' press release
, the deal will involve all AT&T residential (both DSL and U-Verse), commercial and wholesale customers in Connecticut.
Frontier Communications executive Dana Waldo stormed out of a public meeting at the West Virginia Capitol on Wednesday, after he was asked if Frontier's broadband technology would provide households with basic DSL speeds in Tyler County, West Virginia. Waldo got angry while Council members were reviewing grant applications from a Frontier competitor that plans to bring broadband service to Tyler County. story continues..
According to Frontier Communications earnings report
, the company added 26,800 new broadband customers last month, and 84,500 new net broadband customers in the last nine months -- in large part thanks to a new "$20" DSL promotion being run by the company. As noted in March when it launched
, the $20 deal requires you sign up for a $30 to $40 copper POTS line you may not actually want.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has announced that Frontier Communications will help build a $1.5 million 1 Gbps network that will serve homes, schools and businesses in Southern Illinois. According to a statement from the governor's office
, the build will be a collaborative effort between Frontier, the City of Carbondale, Southern Illinois University and Connect SI.
Time Warner Cable's recent decision to hike customer prices, then impose a fee hike on modem rental for the third time in a year continues to result in the national press belatedly realizing the company benefits from too little competition
. However, what little competition there is for Time Warner Cable is trying to take advantage of this outrage, Frontier Communications running ads in upstate New York
lambasting Time Warner Cable and pretending that Frontier users won't see rate hikes:
Frontier Communications is making the most out of the cable company rate increases with a new “Goodbye Time Warner” ad campaign. It is pitching $19.99 broadband price-locked for two years — an improvement over its earlier offers thanks to a major reduction in sneaky fine print. Customers can get up to 6Mbps service at the special offer price as long as they keep a Frontier landline active with a qualifying calling package.
Frontier is traditionally to healthy broadband competition as Lindsay Lohan is to good acting and healthy living, so really many customers are simply choosing the lesser of two evils. Frontier's price point may sound nice, but they're forcing you to bundle a landline you probably don't want in order to get it, a forced-bundling practice consumer advocates have been fighting to eliminate for a decade.
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