News tagged: Frontier Communications
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Comcast VP of public policy Rebecca Arbogast informed attendees of a Free State Foundation conference this week that the "alleged failing and falling state of U.S. broadband" is "based on misunderstood and misused statistics." According to Arbogast, the claim that the United States is 22nd in broadband is effectively a lie, used by critics to unfairly attack what is secretly a top ranked broadband infrastructure. Arbogast went on to argue that comparing the United States to markets in Asia is "silly at best" and that those criticizing United States broadband are just engaging in "hand wringing
(Arbogast said) the absolute price of broadband was essentially flat while speeds increase 900%. She pointed out that over the same time the cost of college has increased 72%. "That's a real problem," she said. "Broadband isn't." Arbogast said that the U.S. was also a leader in what it did with broadband, including its impact on economic, political and social life.
Arbogast derided the oft-quoted stat that the U.S. is 22nd in broadband. "It is not true. It doesn't even rise to the level of 'truthiness' in the Colbertian sense." She pointed out that the stat appears to come from a three-and-a-half-year-old study. "That kind of disinformation is not a good basis for policy analysis."
Granted this ignores that you can go to pretty much any broadband statistic warehouse (from Akamai
and the FCC
to the OECD
and OOkla's Net Index
) and find that the United States is indisputably and utterly mediocre in the majority of broadband metrics, whether it's price, penetration or speed. Pretending everything is just fine is her job, and denial has long been the battle cry of the industry's lobbyists, PR flacks, astroturfers and fauxcademics
, who'd prefer things stay exactly as they are for most of us: uncompetitive and costly.
United States broadband users stuck on expensive and slow satellite and DSL services in particular are surely comforted by Arbogast's belief that they're effectively delusional.
New Frontier customers can now order DSL services for $20 a month -- with a catch. According to a company statement
, users can get that price locked in for three years with no contract or installation fees -- if
users sign up for a traditional copper landline phone account that's surely to add $30 to $40 in over-priced voice services (and fees) on top of that original price tag. Such "price lock" promises traditionally aren't worth it, as you can usually get a lower rate through negotiations over time. The deal fine print
(pdf) notes the speed you get is 6 Mbps, but they fail to note the upstream speed. Users can double that speed for $10 more -- though you have to be in an area where Frontier has upgraded to offer those speeds.
Back in 2011 the FCC began collecting real-world user broadband data from customized routers, then issuing reports on which ISPs were failing to deliver advertised speeds. It's one of the few FCC policies in recent years that has truly paid dividends for consumers. story continues..
It has been about half a decade now that I've been pointing out that most of the meters used by ISPs to track and bill consumers for usage aren't accurate. Customers of Canadian cable operator Cogeco have long complained the company's meter is inaccurate when users can load it at all
, and every so often the meter simply goes mad -- like last Spring when the meter was horribly confused by leap year
We've noted several times how Verizon's sale of their DSL and landline assets to Fairpoint and Frontier was strategically brilliant (unless you're one of the impacted customers). Not only did Verizon sell both companies millions of neglected customers and lines they didn't want to maintain or upgrade, the deals offloaded huge amounts of Verizon debt onto these companies (driving Fairpoint into bankruptcy
) while netting Verizon a huge tax write off.
Netflix has once again ranked the best ISPs for streaming content. According to this Netflix blog post
, the company's rankings come from 30 million members viewing over 1 billion hours of Netflix each month.
Two new J.D. Power and Associates studies note that customers on pricier cable tiers claim they're more satisfied, while DSL users complain their connections aren't keeping pace with modern household bandwidth demands. story continues..
While Verizon is busy cozying up to Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications, Frontier Communications has struck a similar deal with AT&T. According to a Frontier press release
, Frontier Communications will be bundling AT&T wireless services in a select number of markets: parts of Minneapolis; Everett, Kirkland and Bothell, Washington; and Orange County, New York. The press release doesn't say why users should bundle AT&T services instead of just buying AT&T services standalone, and the company didn't respond to our request for comment inquiring if there's any discounts for bundling (meaning there probably isn't). Users will see a unified bill and get "free" access to AT&T's network of 29,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.
Frontier Communications has announced
that the telco continues to very-selectively deploy bonded DSL services, this time to portions of 28 communities in Appalachian Ohio. The speeds aren't much by current generation standards, Frontier offering residential users in range 12/2 Mbps service and business customers in the region 15/2 Mbps. Still, these upgrades are more than Verizon (who sold much of their DSL territory to Frontier) was doing, which isn't saying much. As we noted again yesterday
, incumbent phone companies are fleeing the DSL and landline industry while smaller telcos can't or won't upgrade their networks to seriously compete with cable speeds. While our users say Frontier is busy with upgrades
, the majority of their customers continue to be very fortunate if they can get speeds between 3 and 6 Mbps downstream.
HughesNet and Frontier Communications, two companies with significant reputations for over-charging and under-delivering
when it comes to broadband services, this week announced
that Frontier will start reselling HughesNet services in rural markets. HughesNet's slow speeds, high prices and daily usage caps (we assume all three will be coming along for the ride) consistently see fairly awful reviews
among our users, and Frontier's DSL reviews
fare only slightly better.
While AT&T and Verizon appear more than happy to bleed off DSL users they don't want to pay to upgrade while they focus on wireless, smaller telcos certainly don't have that option. The nation's smaller telcos like Frontier, Fairpoint, Windstream and CenturyLink all face landline customer erosion and constant user defections to faster cable options, with many users fortunate to get 3 Mbps downstream. story continues..
Last month reports leaked out
that Frontier's plan for "next generation" broadband services would include licensing AT&T's U-Verse VDSL technology and offering that to a select group of customers. On the company's recent earnings call Frontier CEO Maggie Wilderotter confirmed the plan
-- sort of -- stating the possibility remained in the exploratory phase and that licensing U-Verse is one of several options being considered.
Despite all the promises made ahead of Frontier's acquisition of millions of unwanted DSL customers, we've seen more than a few cutsomers in our Frontier forum
lament that the company suddenly started offering them slower speeds -- especially in acquired Verizon areas. Some users see 5-8 Mbps tiers slowed to 3 Mbps, while some 3 Mbps users see speeds that can barely be considered broadband
Stop The Cap! story continues..
has gleaned some interesting information from their source inside Frontier noting that Frontier's next-generation plan for many users will be -- AT&T U-Verse? According to documents obtained by the website, Frontier is in talks with AT&T to license AT&T's U-Verse technology and offer it to select portions of Frontier's footprint sometime in the latter part of 2012.
The 100,000 FiOS customers (or what's left of them after extensive price hikes
) will still be supported, but any new "next gen" expansion will be AT&T U-Verse.
Frontier today announced
that the company has successfully completed the integration of all the Verizon DSL and landline networks acquired in an $8.5 billion deal announced in 2009
. "Consistent processes and procedures help get new products and services to customers faster, enhance customer retention and market share, and improve the overall customer experience," insists Frontier CEO Maggie Wilderotter. The integration wasn't without problems, most notably Frontier suddenly making it very clear
(in the form of price hikes and new $500 installation fees) after deal approval they didn't want to continue offering TV services to the 100,000 FiOS customers acquired in the deal. Next up for Frontier: bringing millions of customers on sluggish 1-3Mbps DSL into the modern age sometime in the next decade.
The cable industry' broadband dominance
isn't expected to change anytime soon here in the States, with many more rural-focused telcos (Windstream, CenturyLink, Frontier, Fairpoint) lacking the funds to seriously upgrade to fiber to the home or even broad scale VDSL. Frontier Communications, having gobbled up a number of unwanted Verizon markets and debt
back in 2009, continues to tread a precarious path where they're supposed to be a broadband company, but can't offer a compelling next-generation product that seriously competes with cable (or in some cases, 4G wireless).
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Recent news contributorsKarl Bode