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Doubletake: Company With 5GB Limit in Acceptable Use Policy Promises “Near-Unlimited Bandwidth Capacity” to West Virginia

Phillip Dampier September 11, 2009 Data Caps, Editorial & Site News, Frontier, Public Policy & Gov't, Recent Headlines 6 Comments

bullJust like FairPoint Communications, the Towering Inferno of phone companies haunting New England, Frontier Communications is making a whole lot of promises to state regulators and consumers, if they’ll only support the deal to transfer ownership of phone service from Verizon to them.

This time, Frontier is issuing a self-serving press release touting their investment of some $4 million dollars in its broadband networks in Charles Town and Princeton, West Virginia.  But the best part was the claim the upgrades would “offer customers fast broadband speeds and near-unlimited bandwidth capacity.”

In Princeton, 44 miles of fiber-optic cable will connect all Frontier High-Speed Internet (HSI) equipment to the exchange`s main switch, and 37 additional miles of fiber cable are being installed in the Charles Town exchange. These upgrades will allow Residential HSI speeds of up to 6 Meg and Business HSI speeds of up to 12 Meg. The upgrades will allow provisioning of Metro Ethernet service of up to 100 Meg, resulting in very high data speeds for private networks among multiple business locations.

These upgrades are all well and good, and are perhaps more than urban-focused Verizon was willing to do in the state, but before West Virginians get too excited by the words “fiber cable” and “near-unlimited bandwidth capacity,” it might be wise to consider the implications of transferring an entire state’s telephone business to a company that still insists on defining an “appropriate amount of usage” on that near-unlimited network at a piddly 5GB per month.

The company also promoted their “computer giveaway” program:

Recognizing that the lack of a personal computer is a barrier for many families, since 2006 Frontier has provided more than 10,000 free computers to qualifying customers in West Virginia. A large percentage of the computers went to first time computer households, who also benefited from free on-site installation.

To the uninitiated, that may suggest a benevolent phone company handing out free computers to the needy with no strings attached.  In fact, this was a Frontier customer acquisition promotion.  Customers signing up for a bundle of telephone and broadband and/or satellite service could qualify for a free basic Dell Netbook (valued at under $400), if they are in good standing with the company, agree to a “price protection agreement” holding them to the company for two years (or facing a nasty early termination fee running several hundred dollars), and also pay a handling fee:

Customer pays handling charges and taxes totaling $45. Customers must subscribe to a new package of Frontier residential local service with features, Unlimited Nationwide or Statewide Long Distance voice-calling and qualifying High-Speed Internet service. Requires a two-year Price Protection Plan on Frontier services (excludes satellite TV) with a $300 early termination fee. Offer available while supplies last. Frontier reserves the right to substitute a comparable Mini Laptop. Other offers available for existing High-Speed Internet customers. Applicable taxes and surcharges apply. Electronic or other written contract signature for Frontier services is required. Some Frontier services are subject to availability. Installation charges may apply. Unlimited U.S. Long Distance minutes are for residential voice usage and exclude 900, international, directory assistance and dial-up Internet calls.

For a whole lot of West Virginia, broadband service means one thing – DSL from the phone company.  Satellite broadband is costly, capped, and has terrible customer satisfaction ratings.  Cable television is a dream for significant parts of the mountainous state.  Do West Virginians want to risk their broadband future on a company that insists on an Acceptable Use Policy with a 5GB usage limit in it?

Residents of Rochester, New York know Frontier Communications all too well.  They’ve been our local telephone company since being absorbed by Citizens Communications after the colossal downfall of Global Crossing, which took ownership of the formerly independent Rochester Telephone Corporation.

Don’t let dreams of fiber dance too much in your head.  Frontier routinely installs fiber, but only between their central offices and remote equipment that helps reduce the distance between telephone switch equipment and the copper wiring out on the telephone poles.  It does help provide the potential of speed increases for DSL service by reducing the length of copper wire DSL travels on, but by no means should imply West Virginia will see fiber to the home in their near future.

If Frontier Communications lacks the means and the will to wire New York’s second largest economy and third largest metropolitan area with more than 1,000,000 residents with fiber to the home, don’t think for a moment they’re going to be any hurry to light up the state of West Virginia.

Indeed, for many residents of the Flower City, the bloom is well off Frontier’s rose, trapping this community in a broadband backwater with a telephone company unwilling and/or unable to provide the kind of 21st century broadband service that is presently being provided in several other upstate cities as Verizon installs its FiOS fiber network.  For Rochester, and for too many other cities, the broadband superhighway from the phone company has little more than tumbleweeds blowing across.

This site was founded last year when Frontier introduced its 5GB usage cap, and we coordinated a consumer response which forced the company to pull back from its enforcement.  But the threat still looms over the heads of their customers from coast to coast as long as it remains a part of their Acceptable Use Policy.

The time has come for Frontier to banish the 5GB language from its Acceptable Use Policy once and for all and stop toying with Internet Overcharging schemes altogether, especially as it seeks to bring the threat of those schemes to millions of Americans that may find their only realistic broadband option coming from this provider.  Otherwise, it’s time for consumers to get on the phones and tell their elected officials and public utility commissions how they feel about getting broadband service from a phone company that tells them:

Frontier may 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. The Company has made no decision about potential charges for monthly usage in excess of 5GB.

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14 years ago

A Vista service pack is over 500mb. I’m sick of these people

Michael Chaney
14 years ago

I’m curious to know when you get this free netbook from Frontier and plug it in, how close you’ll get to their 5 GB acceptable use limit just by downloading all the updates for Windows and antivirus and any other app that comes pre-installed.

Greg Glockner
Greg Glockner
14 years ago

5GB is absurd. One Linux ISO is 5GB. Windows or Mac patches can run hundreds of MB. You can easily hit 5GB as a full-time telecommuter with just web and email. No VOIP or multimedia downloading necessary. This is pathetic.

14 years ago

Well, as I have stated numerous times on this website, being a gamer I would easilly blow past 5 gigabytes in under 2 days full of gaming, video viewing, beta testing software, and the likes as well as whenever I take a look at PCs in my area at my home, and this is not counting the bandwidth others use here as well. Now it turns out one of the websites I go to for Garry’s Mod addons moved from their older and slower mirror based method of distributing addons to torrents powered on Amazon’s cloud computing service which will… Read more »

14 years ago

I guess that people should be hoping that Frontier goes the way of Fairpoint….

Then maybe the states will start to get serious about their phone lines.

At least in Canada Bell offers comparable adsl2+ speeds to the cable companies in most major metropolitan areas.

Wheras Frontier barely gives you 6mbps even for a metro area the size of Rochester (Which has a pretty large population relative to the major canadian cities)

14 years ago
Reply to  Alex

I’m a resident of Charles Town and I was able to receive this fiber internet that they were selling. $49.95/mo but no advertised speed. I decided to give it a shot. After it was installed – 3 mbit down / 384 kbps up. I promptly cancelled service and I’m now running 16 mbit down / 2 mbit up from Comcast.

I hope Frontier goes down the tubes…

Then maybe Verizon will service it again and 🙂

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