Frontier's West Va. transition hits snags

Frontier's (NYSE: FTR) $8.5 billion acquisition of Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) rural phone lines, which was just completed right before the fourth of July holiday, is already posing carrier customer problems in its landmark West Virginia territory.

According to a report in the Charleston Daily Mail, Frontier has been trying to keep up with a backlog of customer complaints from its wholesale customers. In total, Frontier said it had a backlog of 360 orders and trouble tickets from carrier customers including local CLEC FiberNet.   

Byron Harris, the head of the Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC)'s Consumer Advocate Division, said that a meeting between the carrier and regulator "was very substantive."

"We went through a lot of issues--some of which have been resolved, some of which remain to be resolved," said Harris. "The problem is, in some ways, it's too soon to tell. Some glitches you have to expect whenever you have a big transition like this," Harris said. "It will be the quality and speed of Frontier's response that will really tell the tale. If, at this point next week, we have the same issues or a similar level of issues, then the alarm bells really go off."

However, it appears that many of these issues existed long before Frontier wrapped its deal to acquire Verizon's lines. "The vast majority of these issues were inherited from Verizon, some dating back to February," Frontier said in a prepared statement.

Given that many of Verizon's own employees freely admitted that the RBOC pretty much abandoned the landline network in West Va., these issues shouldn't be all that surprising.

One possible ray of hope for Frontier's carrier, consumer and business customers is that it will be investing $310 million to improve PSTN service and expand broadband availability. Out of that figure, Verizon itself will have to invest $72.4 million to improve PSTN service, while Frontier itself will commit $48 million to expand broadband availability throughout the state by the end of 2013. Already, Frontier is showing signs of its broadband expansion commitment as it announced it chose ADTRAN to expand its Fiber to the Node (FTTN) network.

For more:
- Broadband DSL Reports has this post
- Charleston Daily Mail article chronicles meeting with PSC
- and also looks at customer issues

Related articles:
Frontier Communications charts a new course
Frontier wraps up acquisition of Verizon's rural lines
Frontier says West Va. Verizon's phone line cutover is on track
Verizon sets date to hand over rural wireline keys to Frontier
Frontier pledges support for FiOS customers
Union members held protest of Frontier/Verizon deal at FCC headquarters
Verizon-Frontier deal gets FCC approval
Frontier gets West Virginia's PSC approval for Verizon rural line purchase