Sunday, November 19, 2017
Business

Can Frontier regroup after its bungled Verizon FiOS takeover? Or will this get ugly?

RECOMMENDED READING


The reviews are in. Five days after the cable TV/Internet switchover to Frontier Communications from Verizon FiOS in the Tampa Bay market, I'm giving Frontier's performance a "C-" with a strong recommendation to improve. Quickly.

I know. Folks and businesses that have no Internet or TV services give Frontier an "F" while those who can't even tell there was any switchover in companies here ask "what's the problem?" while privately expressing thanks for dodging a bullet.

For Frontier, spending more than $10 billion to buy Verizon's FiOS businesses in Tampa Bay and urban parts of Texas and California is a big deal. Frontier has historically been more of a rural provider, so this step-up into some major metropolitan areas is supposed to be the company's leap into the Bigger Leagues.

Let's just hope they don't get sent back down to the minors.

To be fair, any cable TV/Internet company that takes over a substantial network like Verizon FiOS in multiple markets is going to face some problems and harsh criticism from customers who are growing ever more personally and financially dependent on 24/7 digital access.

For starters, Frontier did the right thing Monday and issued an outright apology for its poor kick-off in Tampa Bay, especially after promising a smooth transition.

"Given the size and scope of this transaction, some of our customers experienced service disruptions," Frontier said in a statement. "This is not the result we intended, and we apologize to our customers experiencing any problems."

However, some of the company's statements haven't sat well with customers, including by regional president Mike Flynn, who told the Tampa Bay Times' William R. Levesque on Monday that "We're all set and in great shape" and "I couldn't be more pleased on this Monday."

On Twitter, customers still suffering through service difficulties — including some who are well-known leaders in the business community — vented.

Throughout the day Tuesday, new and frustrated comments responding to Frontier's difficulties were still appearing on Levesque's latest online story.

"To imply that this is a normal outage takes a lot of guts," commented Scott Brown. "During my 10 years with Verizon I do not think there was an outage over 2 hours."

"Hey, Mike Flynn," writes Jay Fluke. "If this is normal I'm going back to Bright House" — the other major cable/Internet provider in this metro area. Of course, Charter Communications is about to close on its purchase of Bright House Networks, so Bright House customers may experience their own transition issues soon.

"I'm in my 6th hour today of phone calls on hold, being transferred endlessly and (in) chats," Andrew Corn of EBS Networks in Tarpon Springs stated in an e-mail sent to me Tuesday afternoon. "Seeing no end in sight."

"I have worked with and for many Fortune 100 companies," upset businessman Bob Showers, owner of AnyLabTestNow in Tampa, said in an e-mail. "This implementation has been a complete and total bust."

Frontier transitions from Verizon FiOS in other states suffered, too. As of Tuesday evening, the website downdetector.com, which monitors a live map of Internet outages across the country, actually registered an uptick in ongoing Frontier problems in Tampa Bay, the Dallas area of Texas and parts of southern California.

On its website Tuesday, Frontier informed customers with FiOS TV service that the "vast majority" of video-on-demand titles may not be available until mid-April. Frontier also told customers of its FiOS Digital Voice service that some features may be down through Wednesday.

In size, Frontier is not a big company. Based on market value, Verizon is 37 times the size of Frontier. Let's hope Frontier is not biting off more than it can chew.

So, Frontier. What's it going to be? A rough week or so of transition angst and headache, then reasonably smooth sailing? Or is this the start of a prolonged mess that could spark federal regulatory concerns and customer defections or, worse, draw lawyers smelling blood in the water?

I'm betting on the former and praying it's not the latter.

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected]/ Follow @venturetampabay.

Comments

Stolen car crashes in St. Pete, leaving passenger, 15, with life threatening injuries

Two boys in a stolen car struck a dip in the roadway and crashed into a tree, leaving the 15-year-old passenger with life-threatening injuries, St. Petersburg police said.The crash occurred about 11:25 a.m. Sunday as the car sped west on 11th Avenue ...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Search suspended for missing Cortez boater who left from Egmont Key

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for a missing 63-year-old boater on Sunday evening, two days after he and his dog were reported missing 5 miles northwest of Mead Point, just inland from Anna Maria Island.On Friday, Fraser Horne of Cortez le...
Published: 11/19/17
Parents, children welcome downsized MOSI in Tampa

Parents, children welcome downsized MOSI in Tampa

TAMPA — Avery, 6, slid his sneakers up the side of 200-pound rubber tire from the space shuttle Columbia and sat on top.His father, Ilder Jeannot, called for him to get off of it — usually climbing on museum displays is frowned upon. But in the new M...
Published: 11/18/17
Updated: 11/19/17
Sunday Conversation: Tona Bell invites customers to enjoy a ‘digital detox’

Sunday Conversation: Tona Bell invites customers to enjoy a ‘digital detox’

Like so many small businesses, Saturday will represent a special day for Paper Seahorse owner Tona Bell. Bell’s cozy bungalow business at 211 S Howard features paper and stationery, specialty pens, vintage typewriters and crafts classes. It will offe...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/19/17
Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

As economists predicted, the tough hit that Florida jobs took from Hurricane Irma was not long-lived. The state added 125,300 jobs in October, almost breaking even from the 127,400 jobs it lost in September. According to state figures released Friday...
Published: 11/17/17
Apple will postpone release of  HomePod

Apple will postpone release of HomePod

The Washington PostApple said Friday that it’s pushing back its plans for a Siri-powered smart speaker until sometime early next year.The HomePod speaker was announced in June, with an initial launch date set for December. Apple said that its smart s...
Published: 11/17/17
HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

ST. PETERSBURG — Good Housekeeping and St. Petersburg-based HSN have chosen five finalists for their entrepreneur competition. The partners are searching for a novel item to promote as endorsed by the Good Housekeeping Seal, denoting reliability and ...
Published: 11/17/17
Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

How are we doing?That was the Big Question posed more than once this past week in Tampa Bay. First, the Tampa Bay Partnership and USF debuted in-depth and new ways to measure Tampa Bay across a wide range of indicators to gauge whether we are gaining...
Published: 11/17/17
Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

The main course was expected: a pair of sleek silver Tesla semi-trucks that get 500 miles per charge, go from zero to 60 mph in five seconds and — if the hype is to be believed — promise to single-handedly transform the commercial trucking industry.B...
Published: 11/17/17
We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

What one thing could be added to the Tampa Bay startup community to help it grow and prosper?The Tampa Bay Times reached out to these leading area entrepreneurs and startup experts for answers.RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? D...
Published: 11/17/17