Frontier Communications, a Stamford based phone company established in 1935, may finally service Connecticut customers if a $2 billion deal with AT&T is approved by regulators.
Frontier, founded in 1935 as Citizens Utilities Company, began operation in primarily rural markets but now offers phone services in 27 states. As of December 2012, the company has 14,700 employees and 3.2 million customers. Frontier says they are the nation’s fourth largest local telephone carrier.
Over the last twenty years the company has been acquiring local telephone customers from the former “Baby Bells,” with the acquisition activity increasing recently as Verizon and AT&T are refocusing their efforts on more profitable markets and wireless services. Frontier’s largest acquisition was an $8.6 billion deal with Verizon to take over local phone service in 13 states in 2009.
If state and federal regulators approve the acquisition deal, Frontier will add approximately 900,000 Connecticut voice service customers, 415,000 broadband data connections through AT&T DSL and U-Verse services, and 177,000 video accounts. Frontier promises that Connecticut customers will have the same services they are currently purchasing from AT&T, but the company hasn’t committed to whether or not they will keep rates the same. Frontier was forced to keep rates at the same levels in other states.
AT&T has been working to transition itself to IP-based services, estimating that their traditional wireline business has declined 75% since 2000 as customers transitioned to wireless services as well as competing products from Comcast, Cox, and other cable providers. The company was met with opposition from AARP and other groups when it lobbied for reducing regulations on its wireline services.
Frontier has established an informational website for Connecticut customers and AT&T employees on the transaction.