Just a day after Senators Smith and Klobuchar ask the FCC to step in to look at Frontier’s service, the Timberjay also asks deeper questions the allegations made against Frontier and the report filed by the PUC.
The PUC ordered the DOC investigation last spring in response to reporting by the Timberjay in late 2017 that highlighted the poor service quality provided by Frontier and its local affiliate, Citizens Telecommunications, or CTC-Minnesota, in northern St. Louis and Lake counties. The DOC investigation revealed that similar problems are widespread among customers in Frontier’s service territory in Minnesota.
Frontier and CTC, operate in the state under what’s known as an Alternative Form of Regulation, or AFOR, as opposed to the more traditional regulatory rules which are tied to return on investment. As part of approval of an AFOR plan, companies must make certain commitments regarding service quality. As part of approval of its AFOR plan in 2015, Citizens committed to upgrading Internet speeds in Ely, Ranier, and several other communities, to as high as 40 megabytes per second (mbps).
But has the company delivered on that promise? State regulators say that Frontier has provided too little documentation to know the answer. That’s why they want the PUC to require that Frontier document whether it’s kept its word— and it suggests starting that investigation in Ely. DOC investigators, in their January report, recommend that Frontier be required to submit the following information:
1) The number of residential and business customers it has in Ely.
2) The number of customers that have a Frontier Internet service product.
3) The number of customers, including the names and addresses, that receive download speeds of nearly 40 mbps. The DOC suggests that state officials should contact a test sample of the names to confirm the information provided by Frontier.
4) The number of customers in Ely who are receiving service at a minimum of 10 mbps download and one mbps upload.
DOC officials are recommending that all of the communities cited in Frontier’s AFOR plan eventually be surveyed. “But it may be more practical to select a single exchange, such as Ely— as there is more evidence from Ely customers concerning service quality, due to the location of a Commission’s public hearing. The PUC held a public hearing on Frontier in Ely last September, one of several held around the state to take testimony from Frontier customers.