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Frontier Is Facing Complaints -- WSJ

Frontier Is Facing Complaints -- WSJ

Postby smix » Fri Apr 29, 2016 8:42 am

Frontier Is Facing Complaints -- WSJ

URL: http://www.nasdaq.com/article/frontier- ... 0425-00037
Category: technologyNews
Published: April 25, 2016

Description: Frontier Communications Corp. is facing a flurry of customer complaints after acquiring millions of phone, television and Internet accounts in three states from Verizon Communications Inc. this month. The Texas Public Utility Commission fielded more than 150 complaints about Frontier's service this month, more than half of them in the past week, spokesman Terry Hadley said. The California Public Utilities Commission has recorded 235 Frontier complaints during the first half of April. Mr. Sowell, a software development teacher, has been spending more time at Starbucks and Buffalo Wild Wings to use Wi-Fi, he said, and plans to switch his broadband service to Time Warner Cable Inc. "It is really inconvenient beyond just, 'I can't watch my Netflix,'" he said. "I need the Internet for my job." Frontier spokesman Peter DePasquale said subscribers who lost service after the switch-over represented less than 1% of its customer base, which now includes 7.5 million voice lines and 4.5 million broadband connections. Most issues were fixed within hours, Frontier said, though some persisted as the company worked to properly handle the flood of new service workers who came over from Verizon. Frontier executive Carl Erhart said during a Texas commission hearing last week that many complaints stemmed from unrelated problems that happened to spring up around the same time as the Verizon switch-over, including an issue with a crucial piece of network equipment that knocked out digital services to some customers. It isn't the start the Norwalk, Conn., company was planning on. Frontier Chief Financial Officer John Jureller in March stressed to investors that the company was working hard to make sure that operations would be uninterrupted on the first day it took over service. The deal closed on April 1. The $10.5 billion transaction to acquire Verizon's landline businesses in Florida, California and Texas roughly doubled Frontier's Internet and television subscriber base, and will boost its annual revenue to nearly $10 billion from $5.6 billion last year. It is part of the company's plan to build a profitable land-based telecom business as other companies invest in wireless technology and media. The rise in customer complaints also shows the difficulty of handing off millions of customers to a new owner. Verizon has sold other landline assets to companies like FairPoint Communications Inc. and private-equity firm Carlyle Group LP, which bought Verizon's Hawaiian operations. Both telephone carriers later filed for bankruptcy protection. But this isn't new territory for Frontier, which has struck such deals before. In 2010 it bought 4.8 million rural phone lines in 14 states from Verizon, and four years later it acquired similar assets in Connecticut from AT&T Inc. Both deals were smaller than the current Verizon transaction in which the company took over 3.3 million voice connections, 2.1 million broadband connections and 1.2 million Fios video accounts. Frontier's Mr. DePasquale said the company inherited about 40,000 service tickets from Verizon in the latest handover. "That created a backlog on day one," he said, noting that those outstanding tickets have since dwindled to about 1,600. That is little consolation to Bill Nesbitt, a security consultant in Newbury Park, Calif., who said he lost service for nearly two weeks at his home office. The problem, which started on April 8, was fixed Wednesday when a technician came to his residence. "The phone is your lifeline," Mr. Nesbitt said. "One phone call could be several thousand dollars for me."
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