Marginal copper upgrades won’t bring afforable broadband to rural California

6 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Leaning pole

Fiber matters, particularly in rural California where copper telephone lines are rotting on the poles and where cable companies can’t rake in the high level of monopoly profits they can in denser and richer urban communities.

It’s about speed, capacity and cost.

Technically, it’s possible to push 10 Gbps through some kinds of copper cable under the right conditions. It means operating at the ragged edge of what’s possible, though. Whether a cable or telephone company could actually achieve that in a rural area, given the age of their overall plant, their willingness to invest and the availability of backhaul is an open question that they can’t answer until they actually build it, although they will make promises regardless.… More

Frontier’s broadband monopoly leaves hundreds of thousands of rural Californians without fiber or choices

2 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Cpuc map frontier broadband gaps

The California Public Utilities Commission took another run at the numbers and the conclusion is the same: 69,000 low income Californian households live in places where the only wireline telecommunications company is Frontier Communications, which is their sole source for wired broadband service only if Frontier considers it profitable enough to offer it in the first place.

An updated report – a “collection of facts” as the CPUC calls it – was prepared by staff as part of the commission’s review of Frontier’s bankruptcy settlement.… More

CPUC judge tells Frontier, consumer groups to stop squabbling and deal with the issues

15 October 2020 by Steve Blum
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Both Frontier Communications and the “intervenors” who want a say in how its bankruptcy reorganisation plays out in California were scolded yesterday by a California Public Utilities Commission administrative law judge (ALJ). The result might be a delay – maybe a week, maybe something else – in concluding the CPUC’s review of the reorganisation plan and the bankruptcy settlement.

In an emailed ruling, ALJ Peter Wercinski cancelled three days of hearings scheduled for the end of the month, saying that none of the parties involved have yet addressed the issues surrounding the bankruptcy that were identified by the commission

The Public Advocates Office stated in its October 12, 2020 response that “all material issues in the Scoping Memo remain at issue.”


Frontier is the only wired broadband choice for 69,000 low income California households, if they can get it at all

1 October 2020 by Steve Blum
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Cpuc map frontier low income territory

A “collection of facts” about Frontier Communications’ history as a broadband and telephone service provider in California will serve as a primer for members of the public that want to weigh in on the California Public Utilities Commission’s review of the company’s bankruptcy settlement.

The report analyses the thousands of complaints about Frontier’s service and billing practices over the years, and the service quality problems it continues to have. In some respects, Frontier is doing better – it’s on track to have fewer complaints this year than last – but it has continuing issues with service outages and repair times.… More

AT&T delivers low quality service to low income Californians, but lavishes fiber on the rich

21 September 2020 by Steve Blum
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Att outages by hh income

AT&T provides the highest quality service in the highest income neighborhoods of California, and the lowest quality in communities with the least income, according to a network quality study done by the California Public Utilities Commission.

The study’s initial findings were released last year. The top line conclusion was that AT&T and Frontier Communications are deliberately choking off investment in ageing copper phone systems, particularly in rural areas – now-bankrupt Frontier because it had no money for upgrades; AT&T because it could get away with it.… More

Meaningless fines lead to AT&T’s, Frontier’s deplorable quality in California

15 September 2020 by Steve Blum
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Verizon taft 2dec2014

A study of AT&T’s, Verizon’s and Frontier Communications’ telephone network quality conducted by the California Public Utilities Commission shows that overall performance is poor across California. Low income communities have worse service and more outages than high income ones, but it’s not particularly good anywhere

Maximum Customer Trouble Report Rates of 6%, 8% or 10% of switched access lines per month (based on wire center size) are unduely generous because failure rates as high as these can hardly constitute acceptable service quality.


“Virtual separation” of Frontier’s fiber systems could mean actual abandonment of rural Californians

26 August 2020 by Steve Blum
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San benito pole route 13apr2019

The gap between urban fiber haves and rural have nots could grow wider in California as a result of Frontier Communications’ bankruptcy settlement. Its reorganisation plan was filed with the California Public Utilities Commission yesterday, after receiving approval from the federal judge in New York overseeing the bankruptcy proceeding.

The plan turns ownership over to banks and financiers who hold billions of dollars of Frontier’s now worthless debt. A cryptic paragraph buried deep in the plan calls for Frontier to develop a “detailed” proposal for a “virtual separation” of “select state operations” where the new owners “will conduct fiber deployments” from other operations in those states which will be blessed with vague “broadband upgrades and operational improvements”.… More

CPUC puts muni ownership option on the table, asks tough questions about Frontier’s bankruptcy plan

Frontier verizon pole santa barbara county 10oct2015

Frontier Communications didn’t get a bankruptcy fast pass from the California Public Utilities Commission. Instead, a ruling yesterday by commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves sets out a long list of issues that Frontier must address before its bankruptcy exit plan is approved by the CPUC, including its impact on customers and communities, and the role of local government in providing telecoms services.

A key question is whether the CPUC “should require that local or tribal governments have a right of first offer or a right of first refusal regarding any transfer or disposal of [Frontier’s] assets”.… More

Frontier says bankruptcy won’t change California service quality. CPUC must decide if that’s good news

Frontier Communications wants the California Public Utilities Commission to blindly bless its bankruptcy exit plan. Yesterday, it filed statements from two executives who argued that the financial restructuring and resulting change in ownership won’t have any effect on the more than two million Californians in its footprint.

“Service quality will at least be maintained”, Frontier’s head of lobbying and lawyering, Mark Nielsen said. That’s because “the restructuring will not alter Frontier’s day-to-day opertions”.

Yes, “opertions”.… More

Frontier’s California outage complaint rate triple that of AT&T, electric companies

Cpuc complaints 15mar 13jun2020

Frontier Communication’s service outage problem is three times bigger than any other major California utility, judging by consumer complaints submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission during the covid–19 emergency. On a per customer basis the bankrupt telco’s wireline outage complaints were triple those of AT&T, and greater than Southern California Edison’s or Pacific Gas and Electric’s on an absolute basis, despite having fewer than half the number of customers as either of the two electric companies.… More