NY Investigates Frontier Communications As US Telcos Slowly Implode

from the ill-communication dept

We've long explored how the nation's phone companies don't really even want to be in the broadband business. They routinely refuse to upgrade their networks despite millions in subsidies, yet often lobby to ensure nobody else can deliver broadband in these neglected footprints either. US telcos have a bizarre disdain for their paying customers, delivering the bare minimum (slow DSL) at the highest rates they can possibly charge without a full-scale consumer revolt. It's not surprising then that many telco DSL customers are fleeing to cable, assuming they even have a second broadband option.

This dynamic often results in some absurd dysfunction. Like in West Virginia, where incumbent telco Frontier has repeatedly been busted in a series of scandals involving substandard service and the misuse of taxpayer money. The graft and corruption in the state is so severe, state leaders have buried reports, and, until recently, a Frontier executive did double duty as a state representative without anybody in the state thinking that was a conflict of interest.

Things haven't been much better for the telco in states like Minnesota, where it's under investigation for failing to upgrade -- or even repair -- its shoddy networks. The same thing is also going on in New York, which just opened a renewed investigation after being inundated in complaints about terrible service:

"NY Public Service Commission (PSC) staff reported "that several Frontier Communications subsidiaries have significant service-quality problems, including escalating complaint rates, lengthy repair durations, and localized network reliability issues," a PSC announcement Thursday said. PSC staff is seeking more detailed information from Frontier on customer trouble reports and "will work with Frontier to develop and implement a plan to improve poor localized network reliability conditions," the announcement said.

You may be detecting a theme here. Things are so bad for Frontier, the company refused to even answer questions from analysts or the press during its latest earnings call. Most analysts think the company will ultimately teeter into bankruptcy, something that may also be in the cards for similarly large, dysfunctional telcos like CenturyLink. And while this kind of market failure is bad for consumers who already lack competitive broadband options, it's great for cable giants like Charter and Spectrum which are exploiting the US telco collapse to enjoy bigger regional monopolies than ever before.

Less competition means higher prices and no incentive to fix the cable industry's abysmal customer service. Throw in regulatory capture at the FCC and the steady erosion of broadband consumer protections into the equation, and you should be able to see how this is recipe for even bigger problems.

Filed Under: broadband, investigation, ny
Companies: frontier


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Bobvious, 22 Aug 2019 @ 5:06am

    "How long will it take to connect my internet?"

    There's a reason we're called CenturyLink.

    Speaking of Minnesota: Have you seen their routers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKeHQpT5wVE

    "a Frontier executive did double duty as a state representative". That's not a conflict of interests, it's a convergence of interests.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2019 @ 5:22am

      Re: "How long will it take to connect my internet?"

      Regulatory capture observed in the wild. I would love to make a mockumentary of it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 22 Aug 2019 @ 5:46am

    Corrupt? Or Stupid? Why not both?

    And while this kind of market failure is bad for consumers who already lack competitive broadband options, it's great for cable giants like Charter and Spectrum

    Where I live, you have two choices: phone service, which already went bankrupt last and reorganized under a new name, and Spectrum. Almost the entire state is controlled by those two. When you have a duopoly that strong, you GOTTA be completely corrupt or incompetent to go bankrupt. Skimming too hard off the top would be my guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Mohit Chuhan (profile), 22 Aug 2019 @ 5:56am

    Top Tools to Expand Your Business

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The Baker, 22 Aug 2019 @ 6:54am

    Will satellite Internet and 5G help with the situation, or will it just continue the dysfunction.
    It might introduce some alternatives/competition.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2019 @ 7:41am

      Re:

      Not really. From what I've heard 5G is really limited in range, so expect that to be an urban-area only option (which usually have better broadband choices).

      Satellite has bandwidth caps. Once you use your allotted data for the month, you will end up being throttled.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2019 @ 9:01am

        Re: Re:

        I believe he is talking about the low earth orbit stuff that Amazon and SpaceX have been planning and not the hughes net stuff that sucks ass

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2019 @ 10:25am

        Re: Re:

        From what I've heard 5G is really limited in range, so expect that to be an urban-area only option

        But that's not even the main problem. The main problem is that cellphone companies will be running it, and they have a penchant for data caps, throttling, tether-blocking, and otherwise being a second-class service.

        The low-earth satellite stuff looks promising. In theory—it doesn't yet exist.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2019 @ 7:45am

      Re:

      I wouldn't hold my breath for 5G, due to the fact that the backhaul market's pretty captive, if nothing else. LEOSat service, OTOH... that could change things significantly. (And before you call it "vaporware", Starlink and OneWeb both have test birds on-orbit, and Starlink's initial service batch is on-orbit and checked out, with IOC slated for 2020.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2019 @ 7:33am

    Maybe I've been lucky, but I had really good experiences with CenturyLink service. In the area I am in, they offer the best prices and the fastest speeds (1 Gbps @ $65/month) and promised that I wouldn't have to renegotiate (i.e. threaten to cancel service) once a year to maintain that rate (unlike Comcast who I had to do that with yearly).

    That said, their billing systems are a joke and it did take several tries to get them to (mostly) honor their sign-on promises. Given the options here, (CenturyLink vs Comcast), I'd pick CenturyLink.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 22 Aug 2019 @ 8:18am

      Re:

      You've been super-lucky. The number of phone company customers with Gbit connections is a drop in the bucket. Most only offer slow DSL, generally less than 20Mbps, and most being 5Mbps or less. My last DSL (lived within three miles of the phone company) was 5Mbps, and where I live now, the best they could do is 12Mbps.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SpaceLifeForm, 22 Aug 2019 @ 10:02am

    "Charter and Spectrum" ?

    It's just Charter. Spectrum is just a 'brand name' used by Charter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 22 Aug 2019 @ 12:43pm

    Hate Employment numbers..

    You can usually double them, and still not be NEAR the totals..
    What would it take to Hire Allot of people with 1 responsible for training and getting things done.
    And JUST installing everything quickly??
    The other corps do it, by hiring 1 person who knows what needs to be done, and 100 min wage slaves.
    Considering this is mostly a Last mile problem...As if NY is 1 mile big??
    But how bad it is..?
    Over the last?? 50 years, there HAD to be some improvements(??) some restructuring and updates to keep these services running. Or have they let that 200 pair Wire sit in the ground and ROT??
    Installing Conduit/PIPE/plastic/metal/... Installed over Many years to protect the lines, SHOULD be there.
    Or are we dealing with a Very long term problem and Malfeasance? All we have had for along time is Bill collectors that let things Fail and never update/improve/Solve the problems..

    For all the money Paid to these services...
    After wages for the employees, how much ISNT going to installing better infrastructure? Making a better product? How much ISNT going to investors?? How much is going to State/Federal Gov. agencies to NOT investigate, not allow other competition, Insted of Fixing things?

    If a house builder, would use Old wood, Skip a few truss's, Not Support certain areas in the structure.. DO YOU THINK HE WOULD HAVE A JOB???
    We have more inspectors for building Homes, then we do for many other industries..(Plumbing, electrical, construction, Gas,...) all must be done and SIGNED...and if anything happens, WE look at the inspectors FIRST..
    Anyone think we should look at the Congress's...State and FED? Time to Find out where all the money came from.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bob, 22 Aug 2019 @ 1:13pm

    keep dreaming

    Maybe when DSL dies and cable really is the only answer for the majority of cities they will get regulated as a utility.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
    Yeah right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Richard Bennett, 22 Aug 2019 @ 8:11pm

    You lie, Bodey McBodeface.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 11:10am

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/06/07/taking-on-the-fcc-unraveling-a-500-billion-rip-off/

    The Irregulators’ case is really about the telecom accounting shell-game. Under FCC rules, states don’t have to keep detailed records for intrastate wireline services, thus masking a grand accounting scam. However, New York is the lone exception, state legislators require full telecom reporting. The Irregulators are using this data to expose the great FCC-telecom rip-off. The Irregulators’ campaign could well lead to states and localities across the country bring suits against their telecoms, leading to the reforming of telecom services.”

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.