(UPDATED 2:30 p.m.) AT&T sold its Connecticut landline phone business Tuesday to Frontier Communications Corp. for $2 billion in cash. The announcement had Attorney General George Jepsen and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal concerned about possible impacts on prices, competition, and public safety for people still using landlines.
—More from CTTechJunkie: Who Is Frontier Communications?
Frontier, which is headquartered in Stamford, also will acquire AT&T’s U-Verse video and satellite TV customers in the state.
“We have deep experience in acquiring and migrating large-scale operations onto our networks and systems, adapting them to our sales model, and extending our brand into new communities,” Frontier President and CEO Dan McCarthy, said in a press release. “AT&T’s Connecticut business is substantial, well-defined and covers nearly the entire state. Based upon our track record, we are extremely confident that we will leverage this opportunity to deliver an excellent customer experience and shareholder value.”
The move will give AT&T greater flexibility to concentrate on its wireless business as it migrates away from its roots as the dominant provider of landline service.
“AT&T remains committed to Connecticut; and will invest in the state to provide wireless service on the nation’s fastest and most reliable 4G LTE network and networking, application solutions and professional services for Connecticut business customers,” Patricia Jacobs, president of AT&T New England, said.
She said the transaction isn’t expected to close until the second half of 2014 and until that time there will be no impact on customers.
“We will work closely with Frontier to make the transition for customers as seamless as possible,” Jacobs said. “Frontier is a Connecticut-based company, which will help ensure a smooth transition — and Frontier will honor customers’ existing contracts.”
Shortly after the announcement of the sale, Jepsen’s office released a statement from the Attorney General.
“The proposed transaction could have substantial impact on the quality and affordability of wireline telephone, internet broadband and video services for residential and business customers throughout Connecticut,” Jepsen said. “I will closely examine this deal and fight to ensure that the interests of the state of Connecticut and its residents are fully protected.”
Jepsen continued, “My focus will be on evaluating the effect that this transaction will have on quality of service provided at reasonable rates, as well as the impact on competition, Connecticut’s workforce, and the state’s efforts to streamline and improve the use and control of utility poles. Reliable and affordable wireline telephone service remains a critical public service in Connecticut. Even with the expanding use of wireless, landline service maintains a vital place in public safety and in the lives of many, many Connecticut residents, including our elderly and more vulnerable populations.”
— AG George Jepsen (@AGJepsen) December 17, 2013
Blumenthal, the state’s previous Attorney General before Jepsen, also issued a statement:
“While this deal may be good for AT&T and Frontier, I want to make sure it is right for consumers,” Blumenthal said. “I look forward to reviewing what it means for the people of Connecticut, and I will fight to make sure their interests are protected as DOJ and the FCC review this transaction.”
Blumenthal also said Frontier will be required to file with the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Communications Commission, and Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to ensure the deal doesn’t violate antitrust regulations.