News tagged: Frontier Communications
Already under investigation in West Virginia
for possible mishandling of government subsidy money, Frontier Communications is now facing a new class action in the state for failing to offer the services they advertised. According to the Charleston Gazette
, the suit complains of frequent outages and accuses Frontier of failing to deliver speeds paid for. Of specific note is Frontier's 12 Mbps "High Speed Internet Max," which often struggles to deliver users 1 Mbps downstream:
Frontier advertised a service called “High-speed Internet Max,” which provides speeds up to 12 megabits per second. But the company “throttled” back Internet speeds, particularly in rural areas, without properly notifying customers, according to the lawsuit. Some customers were receiving speeds below 1 megabit per second, but paying for the faster service, the suit alleges. Frontier’s “false advertising” violates the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, according to the complaint.
Frontier claims they tested all of the plaintiffs' lines and insists those users are getting the speeds they pay for. Plaintiffs disagree, insisting Frontier has "a monopoly on Internet services in most of West Virginia," while also noting Frontier received $42 million in federal stimulus funds that didn't appear to improve service for users.
The cable companies that pioneered cable television continue to flounder in JD Power and Associates' latest TV customer satisfaction survey. According to the latest results from the firm
, DIRECTV and Verizon FiOS (738) tied for top honors in TV customer satisfaction in the East region; AT&T U-verse (750) ranks highest in the North Central region; Verizon FiOS (751) ranks highest in the South region; and DISH Network (739) ranks highest in the West region.
Frontier's $2 billion attempt to acquire AT&T’s local wireline, broadband and video operations in Connecticut (originally announced last December
) seemed to have been going swimmingly, recently gaining approval by the FCC
and even union leaders that had originally opposed the deal
. But the deal appears to have hit a snag in the form of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), which has denied a deal settlement
the companies reached with state officials.
PURA argues that the deal's conditions don't mean much, and the deal doesn't do enough to benefit Connecticut consumers:
But the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority said in a filing Thursday that the settlement, as drafted by Connecticut's Attorney General George Jepsen and Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz, does not do enough for state residents. Instead, regulators sent the parties back to the drawing board, saying the settlement's provisions contained "merit for further discussion in an effort to rehabilitate them wherever possible."...Proposed broadband internet investments lack specifics, they said...
The deal is still expected to ultimately move forward; meetings on hammering out updated technical specifics of the deal are expected this month.
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.
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..
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