Today’s News-Gazette reports that Frontier Communications and Verizon are closer to finalizing Frontier’s purchase of Verizon’s landline telephone service. Verizon plans to sell its rural telephone service lines to Frontier, while keeping the more urban areas to itself. There are questions about Frontier’s ability to pay for the purchase. Another issue is whether Frontier can manage to provide reliable service to such a large area. Finally, prior instances of Verizon’s sale of landlines to other companies have ended up terribly. The Illinois Commerce Commission invites the public to comment on the proposed deal.
My own letter to the Commission is below.
My main concerns are:
- the possibility of increased prices (Frontier has to pay for the deal somehow)
- the chance that Frontier might end up distressed or even bankrupt — what happens to our service then?
- whether Broadlands will EVER get high-speed internet; it seems even less likely under Frontier than under Verizon
Following my letter, there is a direct link to the ICC”s website, where you may submit your comments on the proposed deal.
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Dear Illinois Commerce Commission,
I am concerned about Frontier’s proposed acquisition of Verizon’s rural landlines. As a resident and Village Trustee of Broadlands, a rural village of about 300 people in southeastern Champaign County, I am concerned for several reasons.
First, I share the questions of others regarding Frontier’s ability to continue providing telecommunication services after incurring the debt required to purchase the lines from Verizon. If Frontier were to become economically distressed, or even bankrupt, what would happen to our service?
Second, will the prices customers pay for telephone service increase as a result of this deal? Customers pay high prices for telephone service already. Basic telephone service is about $30 per month.
Third, I am concerned about additional services. Verizon’s website advertises several high-speed internet options and even television service. However, in our Village, there are no land-based broadband internet options. Some residents are situated such that satellite internet is available, but those customers pay exorbitant monthly fees (and installation charges as well) for services which have been described as unreliable and slow. Those satellite customers are typically locked into service contracts with hefty cancellation fees, regardless of the reason for cancellation (like sporadic service). In more urban areas, and even in some rural towns nearby, residents have more internet options, like DSL, cable, even fiber optic, for more reasonable monthly rates. I question whether Frontier would be able to provide our village with quality, reasonably-priced internet service. Indeed, Verizon has been unwilling to do so. Furthermore, Verizon does not even offer dial-up internet in our village, and further stipulates in its home long-distance policy that service may be terminated at Verizon’s discretion if it is discovered that long-distance is being used for data reception (as in dial-up internet). Indeed, I contacted Verizon a year ago to inquire about having a T1 internet line run to our village, to supply our village hall and other buildings with a dedicated internet conenction. Verizon refuses to deal with our village on the issue. We are tired of being left out — Verizon apparently will not install an internet line even if our village paid for it — and Frontier’s economic status would seem to make it more unlikely that we will ever see high-speed internet here in Broadlands.
I look forward to seeing how our concerns are addressed by Frontier, Verizon, and the Commission.
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If you would like to comment on Frontier’s proposed acquisition of Verizon’s rural landline service, you can do so online at the Illinois Commerce Commission’s website. The case number is 09-0268. The online docket sheet, including other public comments, is available at: http://www.icc.illinois.gov/docket/PublicComments.aspx?no=09-0268.