Frontier Communications late last week told an Oregon communications commission that it would not respond to accusatory questions posed by the commission with regard to the carrier’s plan to raise the pricing for FiOS video customers it acquired when it purchased Verizon’s local lines last year.
In January, Frontier said it would raise FiOS video prices by as much as 46% because of increased programming costs. Oregon’s Metropolitan Area Communications Commission (MACC) promptly challenged Frontier’s plan.
In a January 20 letter to Frontier obtained by the Portlander, a local news outlet, the MACC asked the carrier a series of pointed questions. For example, noting that Frontier has offered FiOS video customers a year of free DirecTV service if they switch services, the MACC asked whether it was Frontier’s “intent all along to capture Verizon’s customer base and migrate them to DirecTV.”
In a February 3 reply letter to the MACC obtained by The Oregonian, Frontier said the MACC “does not have authority to regulate the rates Frontier may charge for FiOS video service, nor does the MACC have authority to regulate Frontier’s commercial relationships with content providers.” Accordingly, Frontier said, it “reserves the right to decline to respond to inquiries directed to topics that are beyond the MACC’s jurisdiction and may be competitively sensitive.” In addition, Frontier said the MACC’s letter “contains characterizations and questions that misstate facts and conclusions or are otherwise misleading.”
Nevertheless, the MACC’s letter may have been what prompted a decision by Frontier to delay the FiOS rate hike, also reported in The Oregonian. The infamous rate hikes were supposed to kick in at the beginning of the year and on February 18th for customers with expiring contracts.
A Frontier spokeswoman told The Oregonian that a price increase will occur, just not when originally planned. “There is not a rate increase that will be taking place either of those days,” she said. “But there still will be a price increase.”
Frontier has delayed sending out formal notifications to its customers while it considers ways to cushion the impact of the higher rates, Beasly said. Frontier is still considering its options, she said, so the higher rates won’t go into effect on the 18th — nor on March 1, as some customers had been told.
“We’re working on the specific message: How do we help customers with the price increase?” said the spokeswoman.
Hmm. Sounds like the company may be rethinking the DirecTV offer that tripped the MACC’s trigger.