Report Blasts Major Minnesota Telecommunications Company

Updated: January 06, 2019 10:40 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota regulators say a major telecommunications company has failed to provide "adequate or reliable service" and needs to fix its problems and refund money to some customers.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce report released Friday says Frontier Communications may have violated at least 35 Minnesota laws and regulations, citing shoddy service, lax record-keeping and inadequate investment in its own network.

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According to the report, over a thousand consumer complaints were investigated. Of those:

  • 650 were related to Frontier's phone service as either part of a bundle, or standalone service.
  • 250 reports that only concern phone service.
  • 400 reports that concern both phone and internet access services.
  • 325 reports that concern only internet access.
  • 150 reports "where the service type was not readily apparent."  

According to the report, the Department of Commerce learned of two outages that should have been reported to the Public Utilities Commission. 

The first outage took place in July 2017 in the Wyoming exchange, and was caused by a lightning strike. That outage lasted 14 days, and 38 customers were "deprived of telephone service during the outage," the report said.

The second outage took place in the Crane Lake exchange during the summer of 2018, and was also caused by a lightning strike. One customer was out of service for 50 days, according to the report.

According to the report, Frontier said they were not required to report this outage for service quality purposes under the Alternative Form of Regulation (AFOR).  

"Repair of affected cable, and in some cases replacement of cable, was a time consuming effort with work spread over a relatively large geographic area. In many cases, access to the impacted cable was difficult as much of the affected area is remote. Much of the impacted cable was submarine cable placed in lakes and other water bodies. Accessing, inspecting, and repairing that underwater cable required access by boat. Obtaining and coordinating suitable boats and repair equipment was difficult. Repair of the underwater facilities was dependent to some degree upon weather. Thus, Frontier could not repair all trouble immediately, but was required to engage in a repair effort over several weeks and over a widespread geographic area to address all the damaged cable," Frontier said in a statement cited in the report.

Frontier Communications provided an additional statement to WDIO News regarding the report saying, "Frontier strongly disagrees with the assertions in the Department of Commerce’s initial comments and is reviewing the Department’s filing with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Frontier and its employees work hard to provide reliable, affordable telecommunications services to approximately 90,000 customers in Minnesota, many in rural communities where no other provider will invest in providing service. Frontier recognizes we experience service issues and delays from time-to-time with some of our customers. We are an ethical company committed to our customers and the Minnesota communities we serve. We take this matter seriously and will respond appropriately before the Public Utilities Commission."

The investigation was ordered last year by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission after the agency was flooded by complaints from Frontier's patrons.

The Associated Press Contributed to this Report.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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