Frontier, amid bankruptcy, is suspected of lying about broadband expansion

Enlarge / A Frontier Communications service van. (credit: Mike Mozart / Flickr )
Small Internet providers have asked for a government investigation into Frontier Communications' claim that it recently deployed broadband to nearly 17,000 census blocks, saying the expansion seems unlikely given Frontier's bankruptcy and its historical failure to upgrade networks in rural areas.
The accuracy of Frontier's claimed expansion matters to other telcos because the Federal Communications Commission is planning to distribute up to $16 billion to ISPs that commit to deploying broadband in census blocks where there isn't already home Internet service with speeds of at least 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream. An entire census block can be ruled ineligible for the $16 billion distribution under the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) even if only one or a few homes in the block have access to 25/3Mbps broadband.
Frontier's recent FCC filing lists about 17,000 census blocks in which it has deployed 25/3Mbps broadband since June 2019 and tells the FCC that these census blocks should thus be "removed" from the list of blocks where ISPs can get funding. Frontier reported more new broadband deployments than any other provider that submitted filings in the FCC proceeding . The 17,000 blocks are home to an estimated 400,000 Americans .

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