Minnesota customer (and Communications Workers of America Local 7270) ask PUC to hold Frontier accountable

MinnPost publishes a letter to the editor from Mark Doffing, president of the Communications Workers of America Local 7270 asking the PUC to hold Frontier accountable; Minnesota PUC is scheduled to reconsider its approval of Frontier’s bankruptcy plan today (Feb. 18, 2021).

He describes the situation for customers in rural areas…

We are now approaching a full year of living with the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., and it has become clear that high quality phone and internet service are a necessity for all of us to continue any semblance of a normal life. People across the country rely on these services for their jobs, education, health care, and to maintain contact with family and friends in this difficult and isolating time. Here in Minnesota, many of us rely on Frontier Communications to provide those services, and as the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) considers approving Frontier’s emergence from bankruptcy, we have an opportunity to ensure that Minnesota residents receive the improved service they deserve.

Frontier, Minnesota’s second-largest phone service provider covering 250,000 households in the state, filed for bankruptcy on April 14 of last year after taking on billions of dollars in debt and driving away customers by refusing to invest in their network or their workforce.

He adds that Minnesota does not appear to be on Frontier’s priority list…

In its December quarterly update to Wall Street, Frontier reported on its post-bankruptcy “Modernization Plan,” which includes nearly 3 million customers who will receive high-speed, fiber optic internet service over the next 10 years. Frontier’s plan identified 10 states in line for new fiber deployment, not one of which was Minnesota.

In addition, Frontier recently bid to receive federal grants under the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction to provide high-speed broadband in rural areas and won more than $37 million in federal funding to support more than 125,000 customers in eight states. Not one of those customers is in Minnesota. This is very concerning because significant investment is required from Frontier to bring Minnesota residents the quality of telecommunication services they deserve.

He offers a way that the MN PUC could hold them accountable…

Other states — including California, West Virginia, and Connecticut — have reviewed Frontier’s bankruptcy plan and have secured settlements or have ordered Frontier to comply with commitments that include new investment in fiber, capital expenditures to improve their ailing network, and workforce commitments to ensure that the job gets done right. These states have taken the critical step in holding  Frontier accountable.

This entry was posted in Conferences, MN, 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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