MN PUC settles with Frontier – MN Attorney General still looking into complaints

Last month, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported…

Minnesota utility regulators Thursday approved a legal settlement aimed at remedying Frontier Communications’ multitude of telephone network failings.

The settlement between the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Connecticut-based Frontier calls for refunds for aggrieved customers and establishes a framework to deal with any future Frontier phone service problems and maintenance breakdowns.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted 5-0 to approve the settlement, throwing in a few tweaks to essentially uphold the commission’s ultimate authority over the matter.

A reminder of what has happened in MN…

The PUC began looking into Frontier in 2018 after hearing from its customers about poor service, from static-filled phone calls to billing mistakes. The PUC ordered a Commerce Department inquiry, through which more than 1,000 customer complaints about Frontier surfaced.

The Commerce Department issued a scathing report in January concluding that Frontier may have broken 35 laws and failed its Minnesota customers with shoddy phone and internet service, lax record-keeping and inadequate investment in its own network. Commerce has been working with Frontier in recent months on a settlement.

Frontier has denied breaking any laws and does not admit to noncompliance with state regulations and statutes in the settlement.

The settlement does not include complaints about Frontier’s internet service, which isn’t under the PUC’s regulatory purview.

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office is continuing its own investigation into Frontier, which may involve the company’s internet operations.

The City Pages puts a little more color into the story…

In short, the settlement was “not commensurate with the gravity of the allegations” and the Attorney General’s Office doubted whether the company was properly motivated to make it up to its customers.

Frontier formally disagreed with the office’s comments in September and urged the Public Utility Commission to take the deal. Last week, it did. The Tribune reported commissioners voted for it 5-0. In a statement, Frontier Vice President Javier Mendoza said the company was “pleased” to have reached a resolution.

City Pages adds a angle that many metro readers won’t assume…

Many customers said in previous interviews with City Pages they would have dropped the company long ago if they had any other options where they lived. The market, they say, has failed them, and they’re left with whatever hookups they can get, no matter how much they suck.

Their future depends on whether Frontier can really step it up, or whether the Attorney General’s Office can hold its feet to the fire. In the meantime, they’ll just have to stay on hold.

This entry was posted in MN, Policy, Vendors by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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