Armed with new CEO Nick Jeffrey and incoming Executive Chairman John Stratton, Frontier Communications executives say the company is ready to complete its transformation into a data-focused provider of telecom services. During an update with investors, Frontier executives said that the company expects to emerge from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the next few weeks and is just awaiting one final approval from a state public utilities commission.
The company said that moving forward it will continue to de-emphasize its unprofitable video business and focus on broadband. As of the end of 2020 it had completed its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) builds to 60,000 additional homes. The company characterized this as a FTTH pilot project but said that it demonstrated in the trial that it was able to execute on its fiber build on time and on budget.
Of those 60,000 homes passed, Frontier said that more than 44,000 were to greenfield locations such as new housing developments. The company also said that it had 55,000 households covered with its fixed wireless broadband service that it built as part of its Connect America Funds project.
Frontier said its capex spending for the full year it was $1.81 billion and in the fourth quarter its capex spending was $356 million.
In other fourth quarter results, Frontier said that it had 9,000 consumer fiber net adds in the quarter, up from 7,000 fiber net adds in the third quarter. It also said its average monthly churn for the quarter dropped to 1.6%, down from 1.8% in the third quarter. The company said that this was the sixth straight quarter for positive fiber broadband net adds and it attributed its strong growth to the fact that it introduced 1-Gig services in 2019.
Frontier said it ended 2020 with 3.3 million consumer customers and had an average revenue per customer of $87, down from 3.4 million customers in the fourth quarter of 2019. The company also said it lost 31,000 consumer DSL customers in the fourth quarter, which is an increase over a loss of 21,000 in the third quarter.
Frontier said that the losses in DSL customers are part of its strategy to limit the sale of 1-3 Mbps DSL offerings and focus on moving those customers to higher speed offerings.
The company ended the fourth quarter with $1.7 million in total revenues and a net loss of $50 million, which included $136 million in reorganization costs related to balance sheet restructuring and $72 million on debt extinguishment costs related to refinancing.