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Frontier Communications Tells Customers in Western NY They ‘Don’t Need FiOS Speeds That Fast’

Phillip Dampier September 15, 2010 Broadband Speed, Frontier, Video 9 Comments

Frontier's Ann Burr sat down for an interview with a Rochester television station to discuss the future of landlines.

Frontier Communications told customers in western New York not to expect FiOS fiber-to-the-home technology from them anytime soon, claiming residents in upstate New York do not need broadband speeds that fast.  That prompted regular Stop the Cap! reader Bob in Rochester to drop us a note.

Ann Burr, general manager of Frontier’s Rochester division, told WHAM-TV reporter Rachel Barnhart the company believes its current DSL service is more than adequate for residents in the company’s largest service area.  This, despite the fact Frontier recently adopted a handful of FiOS markets purchased from Verizon Communications.  While Frontier has promised to continue delivering the fiber-to-the-home service in areas already offered the service started by Verizon, they have no plans to expand FiOS.

“We’re constantly upgrading our local networks to make sure they can get higher and higher speeds,” Burr told Barnhart. “Fiber lines are installed in newer developments, and neighborhoods that report problems with DSL lines get attention from technicians.”

With Frontier’s DSL service already available in 95 percent of Frontier’s Rochester-area division, Burr added, there is no need to offer FiOS in Rochester.

Burr, who was formerly president of Time Warner Cable’s Rochester division from 1995-1999, has made similar remarks in the past.  In February, she told readers of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle they didn’t need ultra-fast broadband speeds from Frontier either.

from 'The Bridge'

Yet Verizon, one of the nation’s largest phone companies, thinks otherwise.  In upstate New York, the company is still completing its fiber optic network in cities like Albany, Buffalo, and Syracuse.  Verizon FiOS remains a top-rated favorite among readers of Consumer Reports.  Frontier’s DSL managed a less impressive 12th place.

Barnhart learned about Frontier’s broadband plans as part of a larger story about how the phone company will survive the age of the cell phone, as local customers continue to disconnect their Frontier landlines in favor of wireless service from providers like Verizon and AT&T.

Burr warned customers to think twice before disconnecting service.

“Don’t do it. Because I’ve personally been in a situation where my home was without power for a couple of days and you have to recharge cell phone batteries, which you can’t do if you don’t have power,” Burr said.

Burr can’t see a day when no one has a landline phone any longer.

“I don’t see that for a long time. I think that wired phone, copper infrastructure that’s been here for many years provides [the] security [and] reliability that people want,” she said.

Burr’s beliefs are contrary to industry statistics that show Americans continue to drop landline service.  Among those under 30, it’s sometimes hard to find anyone who has a landline at all.

The Bridge reports in the second quarter of 2010 alone, just three phone companies — AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest lost nearly 1.5 million landline customers, mostly to cell phone service and competing “digital phone” products offered by the cable industry.

Consumer Reports says its readers gave top marks to Verizon FiOS for its speed, selection, and service. Frontier didn't make this list at all.

[flv]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/WHAM Rochester Will Frontier Communications Survive in Cell Phone Age 9-15-10.flv[/flv]

WHAM-TV’s Rachel Barnhart talked with local residents who have disconnected their Frontier landlines and spoke with Frontier’s Ann Burr about the long term prospects for a company primarily delivering that service.  (2 minutes)

Currently there are 9 comments on this Article:

  1. jr says:

    “Here, have a 2400 baud modem”-Ann Burr

  2. Mazakman says:

    This woman is so far behind the times it ain’t even funny.

    • Colleen Donaghy (Elaine Stritch) & Ann Burr, Separated at Birth?

      Everytime I see Ann Burr, I keep thinking I’ve seen her somewhere before. Then it dawned on me — she’s a close looking cousin to 30 Rock’s Colleen Donaghy (a/k/a Elaine Stritch)!

      I remember back when Ms. Burr was running things over at Time Warner Cable in the mid-1990s. At the time, Rochester Telephone was re-inventing itself, changing their name to Frontier Communications in order to emphasize the company was embarking on a new cutting-edge frontier of high technology that was so much more than copper-wire delivered phone service. In fact, they didn’t even want “telephone” in their name. The company tested a video service for residents at Clintwood Apartments in Brighton, started preparing to sell ISDN (quickly shifting to DSL), and maintained a reputation for being one of the top phone companies in New York State, free of the service problems and high prices charged by NYNEX (later Bell Atlantic, then Verizon).

      Then Citizens Communications showed up in 2000, bought Frontier Communications, brought Ms. Burr on board in 2006, and with a company-wide attitude like hers, it has been downhill ever since.

      These days, Frontier stands for pioneer days of a different kind, with yesterday’s technology — the covered wagons and tumbleweeds of telecommunications. Now they are reduced to pleading people to keep their landline phone service.

      With Ms. Burr’s “this is good enough for you” attitude, we’d still be using rotary dial phones on mechanical telephone exchanges.

      Frontier will eventually discover this for themselves, as older generations who still embrace landlines die off and young people never even consider establishing service with them in the first place. For the rest of their customers, a request to disconnect is one competitor’s promotional offer away, offering more service at a lower price. But by then it will be too late for them.

      Oh, and Ms. Burr’s claim that Frontier techs will resolve DSL problems is true, when they agree there -is- a problem. For those of us on Elmwood Avenue in Brighton, it’s not a problem in Frontier’s eyes that they market 10Mbps DSL service but only deliver 3Mbps.

      As Ann says, most customers didn’t need that kind of speed anyway! 🙂

      • Terry says:

        “As Ann says, most customers didn’t need that kind of speed anyway!”

        Sounds like Ford in the 80’s and 90’s. Instead of selling what consumer’s wanted they tried to force the buyer into buying what they wanted to build. Almost put them out of business. I see a similar future for Frontier.

        • Tim says:

          And the people will get what they want one way or another whether they like it or not. This woman is really out of touch with technology.

  3. Terry says:

    If Frontier was smart, they would start running fiber on there area of ownership on the poles and prepare for the inevitable end of land line telephones. At the very least they could offer highly capable, scalable phone service independent of any other service. They’d also have a technology that would allow them to truly compete with cable internet and as a result allow them to grow and profit rather than shrink and disappear.

  4. kory says:

    She should be fired for such rediculas comments.

  5. Tim says:

    I work with a group that contracted Frontier for service. At one point, we questioned our SLA with them because we were getting poor performance. The tech admitted that it was not possible for them to ever deliver 10meg. It’s one thing to say that it may vary, but if it can never hit 10meg, that’s a problem. They now provide two bonded DSL circuits for the same price to hold up their end of the contract.

    While Ann Burr may be totally out of touch with reality, at least Frontier still provides excellent customer service. Having also worked with Time Warner, I know that they would not have been as responsive as our customer service rep at Frontier was.

    Too bad Ann’s direction could run what is an otherwise decent company into the ground.

  6. Tom says:

    This womans ideas are as old as she is. Im stuck with Time Warner’s “standard plan” and I am not looking for frontier to save me. Either way I’m paying way too much and I’m getting less-than-great service. I really hope she gets her head out of the clouds and realizes that its not about speeds its about options. Right now 2 ISP’s is not enough.

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