Taking recommendations from a failing broadband provider? Frontier makes 400,000 ineligible for RDOF

This is an interesting story because you have to wonder about the motivation of a broadband provider who is in trouble financially with flailing customer satisfaction reputation – especially when it results in changing the landscape of federal funding. The Institute for Local Self Reliance (Community Networks) reports…

Last week, Frontier Communications told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that there are 17,000 census blocks in which it is now offering 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload. This means well over 400,000 Americans now live in areas no longer eligible for the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, a $20.4 billion program to expand rural broadband. The first phase will auction off up to $16 billion in subsidies later this year.

In the filing, the company also identified census blocks where it believes other providers will deploy broadband access through state-funded programs, making those locations ineligible for the federal funds as well.

One of the most surprising things about this declarations in that it comes from a provider that not doing well…

Frontier recently declared bankruptcy, following a history of increasingly unsustainable acquisitions. It also just missed its milestone for the Connect America Fund, which required the company to deploy obsolete 10/1 Mbps service to 80 percent of the funded locations by the end of 2019 in return for more than $1.5 billion in subsidies. Some 774,000 locations should have at least 10/1 Mbps service by the end of 2020 from a company Consumer Reports repeatedly finds to be one of the worst Internet Service Providers in the nation.

Frontier is so bad that it went through repeated outages of 911 in Wisconsin, dealt with state investigation after state investigation (including but in no way limited to MinnesotaOhioNevadaNew YorkConnecticutMinnesota againWest Virginia, and California [pdf]), and cannot even handle basic redactions (revealing nearly 1 million poorly maintained network connections in West Virginia alone). We made a fact sheet to track some of Frontier’s problems.

Add that with the fact that this is the kind of info that providers seem to get wrong…

This would not be the first time in the past week that a major U.S. telecom monopoly incorrectly reported coverage in thousands of census blocks to the FCC. The FCC seems to have no intention of developing any consequences for companies that make repeated false claims in these data collections.

One of the oddest things about the Frontier filing is that while Frontier was preparing to declare bankruptcy in recent months, it also had the time to research state broadband programs and suggest locations to the FCC in which it thought others may be deploying broadband in areas not covered by Frontier. That company is an utter mystery.

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

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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