The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has suspended its approval of Frontier Communication’s nearly $10-billion purchase of close to 5 million access lines from Verizon after reviewing objections filed by consumer advocate, the Ohio Consumers Counsel (OCC), and competing local telecoms provider Cincinnati Bell Extended Territories, the Ironton Tribune reported today.
“We just want to make sure it is in the public’s interest,” Ryan Lippe, senior communications specialist for the OCC, was quoted as saying. “We don’t think it has gone through enough scrutiny. We would want to make sure that Frontier is truly committing the resources…”
The commission’s suspension is routine and not unexpected, Verizon spokesperson Harry J. Mitchell responded. Verizon is also objecting to the request for numerous public hearings, however. “We feel the hearings, particularly the extent of the hearings, are unnecessary and in fact, will add to the entire process,” Mitchell said.
Rightly or wrongly, Frontier will receive heightened scrutiny for this deal — thanks in large part to past Verizon access line divestment’s with FairPoint and Hawaii Telecom with their high profile migration problems. To be fair, Frontier had nothing to do with those issues and they shouldn’t be held to task for other company’s problems. But honestly, given the recent history of these Verizon deals with smaller rural focused carriers, there’s no escaping this scrutiny.