NEWS - "Possible Frontier Communications bankruptcy could pose problem for local customers"

BOX ELDER COUNTY – By Marcia Wendorf – Jan. 28, 2020

Local Internet Service Provider (ISP) Frontier Communications is reportedly considering plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by mid-March, according to a Jan. 16, 2020, article titled, “Frontier Tells Creditors it Seeks a March Bankruptcy,” on Bloomberg.com.

In the Tremonton area, Frontier provides DSL service. DSL, which stands for "Digital Subscriber Line," uses existing twisted copper telephone lines to transmit digital data. DSL, cable and fiber are considered "wired internet.” Besides Box Elder County, Frontier also provides DSL in 29 states, including California, Florida and Connecticut. While a Chapter 11 bankruptcy would allow Frontier to keep operating its telephone and broadband services, the company’s future is uncertain and could be on a downward trajectory. This would put Frontier's many customers in and around Tremonton in the awkward position of having to find another ISP. For some Frontier customers this would be a welcomed change.

Comments on a local Facebook page run the gamut.

"I've had Frontier for 16 years and have never had a problem except having to get a new modem once,” said Laura Wilkinson. “We stream multiple devices at once without issues.”

"Frontier is horrible!!! We have so many issues and the Wi-Fi is out daily multiple times a day. It’s frustrating and it's hard to get any work done,” added Megan Leavitt Andreasen. Some Frontier customers complained of frequent disruptions and poor customer service adding, "...it disconnects frequently, super slow, and it's a joke to get a hold of anyone in customer service,” said Hailie Harper.

Another Frontier customer, Kristina Wight Stone, encountered "... dead spots in our house when we were within feet of our router, we were constantly having to either manually reset or call them and have them do a reset on our service for it to work properly.” Frontier has had a history of problems, and not just in Utah. Frontier has received numerous complaints of poor service on both its land lines and fiber optic networks. Following Frontier's 2014 purchase of AT&T’s network in Connecticut, subscribers complained of outages. In 2016 when Frontier purchased Verizon's FiOS and DSL networks in California, Florida and Texas, users also complained. The company's failure to properly maintain its network in Minnesota caused frequent and long phone and internet outages, and Frontier was the subject of an investigation by Minnesota's Commerce Department. The Minnesota Department of Commerce found that Frontier failed to promptly provide telephone service to customers who requested it. The company also failed to provide refunds or credits to customers who went without service for months during outages and charged customers for services they never ordered.

Commenting on Frontier's bankruptcy and the opportunity it may present Nebonet, owner JC Mickelson said, "Our first priority is to take care of our current customers, and to maintain the network so it is the best it can be. Our second priority is expansion into areas that have opportunities.” Mickelson also thanked Nebonet's Tremonton customers, saying, "We are a small privately owned company, and we appreciate the years of support we have received from Box Elder County, and the patience customers have shown with our growing pains.” Mickelson said that Nebonet has plans to expand their network in Box Elder County after expansion in and around Nephi, Utah is complete. Responding to an email asking how Frontier's bankruptcy would affect its customers in Tremonton, Frontier Communications Vice President Javier Mendoza wrote:

"Frontier’s business and operations are solid and serving our customers remains our top priority. As we have said publicly, Frontier is evaluating its capital structure with an eye to reducing debt and interest expense so as to be able to better serve our customers. Our customers should expect no changes as we remain focused on providing quality communications services.”

Should Frontier leave the Box Elder County market, options for residential customers include:

- Rise Broadband - fixed wireless, Tremonton coverage: 86.6%, speed: 15 Mbps - Blue Spring Broadband - fixed wireless, Tremonton coverage: 82.5%, speed: 25 Mbps - Xfinity from Comcast - cable, Tremonton coverage: 68.8%, speed: 987 Mbps - Veracity - fiber, Tremonton coverage: 57.5%, speed: 1,000 Mbps - NeboNet - fixed wireless, Tremonton coverage: 31.8%, speed: 100 Mbps - Direct Communications - DSL and fiber, Tremonton coverage: 2.6%, speed: 100 Mbps - Viasat Internet (formerly Exede)- satellite, Tremonton coverage: 100%, speed: 25 Mbps - HughesNet - satellite, Tremonton coverage 100%, speed: 25 Mbps Business owners in Tremonton have additional options that include:

- Bluespring Broadband - fixed wireless, Tremonton coverage: 68%, speed: 25 Mbps - Rise Broadband Business - fixed wireless, Tremonton coverage 57.9%, speed: 15 Mbps - Comcast Business - cable, Tremonton coverage: 10.5%, speed: 987 Mbps


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