A city administrator in Sibley county, Minnesota has accused Frontier Communications of misrepresenting data the county gathered as part of the planning process for a proposed fiber to the home network, which would be funded by the county, reports Community Broadband Networks (CBN).
According to CBN, Frontier sent a letter to local commissioners arguing that even if 100% of households in the service area subscribed to voice, video and data services, the county would not be financially viable. This reportedly was in contradiction to research conducted by a consulting firm hired by Sibley county, which stated that the project would require a 70% penetration rate of customers buying two services or more.
“The numbers presented in the feasibility study are sound,” the administrator wrote in his own letter to the local commissioners. “We worked directly with all of the cities and the two counties to estimate the total number of passings (homes, farms and businesses).” Frontier’s assumptions were incorrect, the administrator said, because the carrier did not count potential customers in two parts of the proposed serving area.
“The bottom line is that Frontier Communications does not want this network to be built because they don’t want the competition,” the administrator wrote. He added that, “We have said from the beginning of this project that if the phone or cable companies want to build this network we will stand back and welcome them with open arms.”
For their part Frontier is not a big fan of municipal networks. “Unfortunately, history tells us that the actual performance of most of these projects is significantly less positive than the promises. Often times, these projects end up costing municipalities huge amounts of money, and negatively impact their financial status and credit ratings,” Frontier stated in their letter.
Frontier isn’t the first incumbent carrier to dispute a municipally funded fiber network proposal. TDS Telecom engaged in a similar battle in Monicello, Minn., and the Tennessee Cable Television Association fought EPB’s network in Chattanooga. But from a public image perspective, it never seems smart to me for carriers to engage in these kinds of fights. Frontier may have some valid arguments, but I question whether the kinds of tactics they are reportedly using do more harm than good to their cause.