Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Frontier sounds off on rural broadband

Maggie Wilderotter, Frontier Communications chairman and CEO, told state utility commissioners that quality broadband service is the key to aiding a growing rural economy. As the nation's second-largest rural phone provider, Frontier provides everything from phone to television services to 2.4 million customers.

With most rural Americans now owning or working for small businesses - not farming -- Wilderotter said those businesses "deserve better" than what many carriers have offered them. Improved broadband services enable rural consumers and businesses to compete on equal footing with urban America. Furthermore, rural customers are eager to make full use of broadband once they get a "taste" of its capabilities, and new customer usage of broadband doubles each year they have it.

Sadly, Frontier is unable to extend broadband service to 10 percent of its customers within its footprint because it's not economically feasible. The stimulus package will likely help build out to that last 10 percent.

Wilderotter also called for an overhaul of the Universal Service Fund system, one that she said is regularly abused by larger providers. Frontier's share of USF-based funding dropped to 5 percent in 2008 while other providers benefited from "loopholes" in the funding process.

Of course, all this crazy talk about the benefits of broadband and new customer usage growing 100 percent each year they have it didn't prevent Wilderotter from hinting that Frontier is still thinking about higher broadband caps above and beyond 5 GB per month for all of their service tiers along with overage charges, reports Posts within forums seem to indicate Frontier is providing only 3 Mbps of service to its 6 Mbps service customers.

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