Late last week, someone familiar with business operations at Frontier Communications indicated to Broadband Reports
that the company was going to begin testing a new capping scheme for heavy users. "Just wanted to let you know that Frontier is sending out letters to the top 50 bandwidth users in Mound Minnesota," said the individual. "The letter states they are using over 100gb in a 30 day period -- the customer will then need to enter a pricing agreement for the excessive usage or terminate service." We've been chasing the rumor down since, and the letters are now officially on their way to Minnesota Frontier users.
You'll recall that Frontier was seriously considering
applying a 5GB a month (that's not a typo) cap to all of their DSL tiers. However, the company backed off the plans when Time Warner Cable began their now-defunct capping plans
-- apparently figuring that offering uncapped service would be a nice way to win over Time Warner Cable customers
(see ad, right). Now that Time Warner Cable has backed off their plans -- Frontier is apparently moving forward with their own capping ambitions.
Note that this is apparently a trial, but it's a very expensive one. According to the letter
that's now being sent to customers in the trial market, users (on any speed tier) who breach the 100 GB monthly threshold are being asked to suddenly pay $99.99 per month. Customers who breach 250 GB a month are being told they'll need to pay a whopping $249.99 per month
. Users who don't respond in fifteen days to the letter get disconnected (how's that for a business model?).
Many users probably won't hit that higher 250 GB cap, but $250 for last-generation DSL is simply a ridiculous price point however you measure it. More customers will probably hit that 100 GB mark, and $100 for what could be 3 Mbps DSL is equally ridiculous given the low (and dropping) cost of providing DSL service. The full letter being sent to trial users adds a little insult to injury, informing them that Frontier's decision to over charge them for last-generation DSL service is about "providing the best possible Internet experience":
Frontier is focused on providing the best possible internet experience across our entire customer base. We bring you a quality service at a fair price, dependent upon an average monthly bandwidth usage of 5GB. Over the past months, your account is in violation of our Residential Internet Acceptable Use Policy.
Our policy states that Frontier reserves the right to suspend, terminate or apply additional charges to the Service if such usage exceeds a reasonable amount of usage. A reasonable amount of usage is defined as 5GB combined upload and download consumption during the course of a 30-day billing period.
We realize there are times when our customers use the internet for services such as video and music downloads, however your specific usage has consistently exceeded 100GB over a 30 day period.
We would like to provide you with the option of keeping your Frontier internet service at a monthly rate of $99.99 which is reflective of your average monthly usage. Please call us within 7 days of the date of this email at 1-877-273-0489 Monday - Friday, 8AM - 5PM CST to review your options. If you do not wish to switch to this new rate plan, you can have your service disconnected. If we do not hear from you within 15 days, your internet service will be automatically disconnected.
We continue to manage our network to ensure all of our customers have equal access to the internet and the ability to enjoy all of its available content, at our committed level of service quality.
It's poor timing for a company that's currently looking to gain regulatory approval for their acquisition of millions of Verizon DSL and landline customers across fourteen states. It's also disingenuous for Frontier to claim they're interested in "providing the best possible internet experience" to their broadband customers when they decide capping and overcharging their users takes precedence over upgrading the network (many Frontier users are lucky to see speeds of 3 Mbps
, and many pay $55 or more for it). We're still waiting on official comment from Frontier and will keep you updated.