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Exclusive: Frontier Communications Has Plans for AT&T U-verse for Landline Customers

Stop the Cap! has learned Frontier Communications is laying the groundwork to upgrade selected areas of its network to deliver fiber-to-the-neighborhood service to some of its customers, perhaps as early as the last quarter of 2012.  Documents obtained by Stop the Cap! indicate the company is negotiating with AT&T to license U-verse technology to deliver the service.

The documents suggest Frontier’s 2011 negotiations with AT&T to resell mobile phone service to Frontier customers have now expanded to include the development of improved broadband at a cost less likely to antagonize Wall Street and the company’s investors.

Sources familiar with Frontier’s operations tell Stop the Cap! although the company will continue to support Verizon-acquired FiOS fiber-to-the-home networks in Indiana and the Pacific Northwest, Frontier plans to rely on less-expensive alternatives for the rest of its service areas and has no plans to further expand the FiOS branded fiber-to-the-home service.

For the most rural customers, Frontier appears ready to partner with HughesNet to resell a satellite broadband product to customers considered unsuitable for basic DSL service.  Frontier will continue to invest and upgrade its traditional 1-3Mbps ADSL service in rural states like West Virginia, Idaho, Nevada, and South Carolina.  The company is also planning to upgrade selected cities to VDSL — a more advanced form of DSL needed to support a U-verse offering.  Perhaps one major target for such an upgrade is Frontier’s largest service area — Rochester, N.Y., where Time Warner Cable has systematically picked off Frontier’s landline customers for years with offers of faster broadband speeds and better package pricing.

Frontier's headquarters in Rochester, N.Y.

Frontier’s insistence customers don’t need faster broadband speeds, a statement made repeatedly by Frontier Rochester general manager Ann Burr, has cost the company market share, especially for high speed Internet service.  Although Frontier claims to offer speeds up to 10Mbps in Rochester, the company only manages to deliver 3Mbps in some of the city’s nearest suburbs.

An upgrade to U-verse, while not as technologically advanced as fiber to the home service, would help Frontier defend its position in more urban markets, especially as cable companies upgrade their own infrastructure to market faster broadband speeds.

AT&T U-verse sells broadband at speeds of 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24Mbps.  Time Warner Cable, Frontier’s largest competitor in upstate New York, sells speeds of 3, 10, 20, 30, and 50Mbps.

Frontier Communications has been preoccupied integrating its newest customers, acquired from Verizon Communications in 2009, with their existing IT and operations systems.  The company recently touted it completed transitioning former Verizon operations, financing, and human resources with its own information technology network nine months ahead of schedule.

Frontier has been reorganizing some of its internal departments in preparation to launch several aggressive initiatives in 2012, especially in its efforts to roll-0ut more competitive broadband — considered a landline lifesaver —  in areas where the company has lost a lot of business to its cable competitors.  The company also intends to spend tens of millions upgrading its regional and national broadband infrastructure and continue extending DSL service to presently unserved rural areas.

Another planned improvement is an overhaul of Frontier’s website, which has brought complaints from customers for delivering inaccurate information, making online bill payment cumbersome, and being difficult to navigate.

Documents obtained by Stop the Cap! also reveal the company has made progress on its plans to pitch AT&T cell phone service to Frontier customers.

Frontier signed a resale agreement with AT&T last fall and is on track to begin limited trial offers of AT&T cell phones, smartphones, and tablets — with full access to AT&T’s network of 29,000 Wi-Fi hotspots during 2012 with a more widespread rollout in 2013.  Frontier plans to offer customers the option of a single bill for Frontier and AT&T services.

Frontier’s Karen Miller told Stop the Cap! the company had no comment about today’s story.

Currently there are 6 comments on this Article:

  1. Kevin says:

    I stop reading as soon as I see the words “deliver fiber-to-the-neighborhood”.

    *yawn* who cares. It wont mean jack for better service, speed, reliability or connectivity. Anymore, a company tries to get me to switch to them for ISP services, I ask…so do you have fiber to the home? Nope. Can you provide no soft data cap, 12/2 service for $30 a month? Nope. Ok then go away. I pay $45 a month and feel its too expensive and switching to your temp promo offers no better price/service incentive to be worth the hassle of changing.

  2. Richard says:

    Most of us in the US can’t get ftth. The providers i’m aware of that are fighting the ISPs besides google are EPB fiber with their 1 gbps service. Also Lus fiber and other muni network communityes. I feel we need to make the FCC and government more aware that them being paid off by the cablecos and telcos and allowing capped and slow 21st century dialup service with overages is screwing our country over. For those states that have outright banned muni fiber, good luck getting businesses and tech workers to move or work there. I’m happy with my TW cable connection, but I wish I could get google here since it would be worth my money. Even if it was the same price that I pay my ISP.

  3. JoePeoria says:

    So, let me get this right, Frontier will then be selling broadband in these offerings:
    1) Satellite thru future partner HughesNet
    2) their own slow 1-3MB, or up to 7MB DSL
    3) possibly thru AT&T cell phones , as an agent
    4) their own VDSL product, licensed thru AT&T’s U-Verse
    5) their own FiOS, licensed thru Verizon

    OK, now there’s a plan for mass confusion, within their own support structure!!

    • Scott says:

      Exactly, plus by just being resellers they have zero quality control on those products and their terms could be changed at any time in the future affecting their service offering and pricing.

      There’s no reason for anyone to buy from them when they could just go direct to the provider instead and get better customer service.

      When you have a network issue and need to get it resolved fast, good luck getting that routed through Frontier to the appropriate tech of the service they’re reselling to have it fixed, try days instead of hours.

      • MattC says:

        Scott, Frontier manages telco lines in ~26 states. They sell 12MB and 24MB (download) service in some areas of WV. They sell 50/20 Fios in Everett, Fort Wayne and Myrtle Beach. Could it be any more obvious that your experience with Frontier largely depends on where you live? Our best chance at high speed internet through frontier in WV is through a Fiber pipeline that has copper offshoots to our homes. When copper travels short distances, very fast speeds can be achieved. While it is unrealistic for Frontier to be able to afford or recoup the cost of FTTH to everyone in WV, they are building a pipeline that should allow for competitive speeds in the future. For customers that can’t take immediately advantage of emerging technologies/speeds, satellite is available. Otherwise I would recommend moving to the city.

        A recent report from Forbes offers a few estimates on how much FTTH would actually cost in rural areas per customer. Somewhere between $2500 and $8000 per customer…so not such a profitable venture for a company that is already stretched to the max. Many skeptics are out there that say even Google can’t afford the investment to offer FTTH to everyone in the nation. Our government needs to find better ways to invest in the infrastructure and its people. Of course, relying on the government to efficiently spend and build anything in this day and age ends up costing tax payers $25K for wireless router.

        Here is a link to the Forbes article that talks about Google Fiber: http://www.forbes.com/sites/petercohan/2012/08/21/will-google-fiber-waste-28-billion/2/

        • I will give credit to Frontier for finally deciding to compete in the 21st century with broadband technology that can wring additional speed out of copper wiring. ADSL 2+, bonding, and VDSL should have been on the menu three years ago but simply wasn’t. Their second ADSL line offer was just plain silly — two super slow DSL lines that existed independent of each other. They did some informal line bonding here in western New York, but otherwise Frontier has been late out of the gate.

          West Virginia is a prime example of a state that is frankly dependent on Frontier to keep them in the digital economy because cable is too scattered in the Mountain State.

          Fiber deployments in rural areas will require subsidizing, no doubt about it. But that is why we transformed the USF into a broadband fund. Starting with last mile DSL is fine with me, so long as these providers are willing to incrementally expand and improve their networks in a fashion that gets copper retired gradually, and not in favor of wireless.

          Google can actually afford a whole lot of fiber deployment, because it is an investment that will pay them back. At least 60 percent of Kansas City reports serious interest in Google Fiber. If even half that number switches, that is still a far better buy rate than either U-verse or even FiOS has achieved.

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