Commentary: Two problems, one result

by Anne Swenson
On June 28, 2018 at 3:34 p.m. internet connection stopped at a home in the Ely area, one of many, following a storm.
In a phone call made to Frontier (800-921-8101) the next day, the homeowner was first told to identify herself and had to dispute an incorrect birth date and name. Finally home ownership was verified and a repair ticket was issued for July 25, 2018.
Yes - JULY - 30 days in the future.
This is typical of what others in remote Ely, MN were being told. And if earlier dates were given by Frontier following the storm, those dates were not met, nor was an explanation offered.
A phone call to the firm later, prompted by a notice of automatic monthly withdrawal of $197, which includes Dish, made the homeowner again phone Frontier. At this time she was offered a free land line, increased internet speed for an additional $15 per month, and finally a $46 discount on the monthly bill to compensate for the non existent internet connection. That made the new total for the month $110.
Meanwhile, the Ely area on June 28 and 29 had been flooded by heavy equipment and workers from Lake Country Power, a rural electric firm which had been started as a result of the Rural Electrification Act, enacted on May 20, 1936, which provided “federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems to serve isolated rural areas of the United States. The funding was channeled through cooperative electric power companies, most of which still exist today.”
When a leaning tree later threatened the roadway and power lines, LCP was contacted and resolved the danger by cutting the tree and removing the problem.
Some recent news which give pause to Frontier customers:
• In February of 2015, Reuters reported “Frontier Communications Corp will buy Verizon Communications Inc’s wireline operations in three U.S. states for $10.54 billion in cash... The properties in California, Florida and Texas will include 3.7 million voice connections, 1.2 million FiOS video connections and 2.2 million broadband connections, Frontier said in a statement.”
• On July 11, 2018, Seeking Alpha, a financial firm, carried an internet article by Business Quant, which stated that Frontier Communications’ CFO and executive vice president, R. Perley Mcbride “is resigning from the company.” The article also describes “the company’s delicate financial positioning and mentions the exodus of subscribers.” Its long term debt is stated to be over $17 billion (data by YCharts).
Customers throughout rural Minnesota lack the services which are available in most of America.