Frontier CFO Scott Beasley offered an update about the company’s progress and fiber goals at the Cowen 8th Annual Communications Infrastructure Conference today. That update included an acknowledgement of Frontier’s somewhat checkered past and how it might impact its future plans, particularly when pursuing the government broadband funding bonanza that is now underway.
Frontier has ambitious fiber goals, which include about 3 to 4 million homes that will probably require government subsidy to reach. Beasley said Frontier intends to be active with government funding programs to do just that.
“We want to compete for subsidies on all of that 3 to 4 million homes and if you take a step back and think about our purpose which is build gigabit America, I mean that’s why we’re excited to build,” he said.
Of course, Frontier is no stranger to government sponsored funding programs for broadband. The company has participated in past programs, including the Connect America Fund II, the predecessor to RDOF.
As the moderator of today’s discussion, Marc Bianchi of Cowen, pointed out, Frontier does not have the best reputation with some of these government funded programs. Frontier for example, missed CAF II deployment milestones in the past and has been accused of “subpar” network builds.
Given what’s at stake with the tens of billions of dollars that are now available, Bianchi asked Beasley how Frontier will overcome this tarnished reputation to compete for these funds and achieve its fiber goals.
“We’ve had to rebuild trust with investors, with equity holders, debt holders, regulators, government officials, and we’ve seen a lot of success there,” said Beasley in response. “Regulators and state officials want us to build as much fiber as possible…yes there are some scars from the past, but I think we’re well on our way to repairing those.”
Beasley cited the entirely new management team and board that have emerged, post-bankruptcy, as evidence that it’s a “new Frontier” and those pre-bankruptcy issues are now behind it.
So for now, expect Frontier to be active in trying to win government sponsored grants to help reach its fiber goals.
“It’s a lot of work, as we’ve said before, this is in the thousands of applications to compete for subsidies across our footprint,” said Beasley. “We’re going to compete for subsidies in that whole 3 to 4 million [fiber locations].”