Broadband services

Frontier Goes Gigabit in Its Fios & Vantage Fiber Footprint

Looking to raise its broadband game amid heated competition with cable and an emerging foe in the form of fixed 5G, Frontier Communications has introduced a symmetrical 1Gbit/s service to about half of its Fios and Vantage Fiber footprint.

Frontier Communications Corp. (NYSE: FTR)'s new 1-Gig offering is not saddled with data caps or data usage policies, but costs $200 per month as a standalone, with or without a contract. Frontier didn't structure the 1-Gig option for service bundle discounts at this stage.

Frontier is also launching a symmetrical 200Mbit/s offering that will serve as the telco's introductory speed tier for residential customers. The new 200-Meg offering is being sold in a $90 per month triple-play bundle, in a $60 per month double-play package, and $50 per month as a standalone.

Frontier is also introducing a new 300/300Mbit/s tier in Indiana, Oregon and Washington.

Tied in, Frontier has unveiled Wi-Fi EveryWare, a program that helps customers get a fix on whole-home WiFi coverage and features WiFi extenders that work with the home's router. Frontier is offering the program at no added charge to new customers who agree to a one-year contract. (See Why ISPs Are High on Whole-Home WiFi.)

Charter Communications Inc. , one of Frontier's competitors, has been using DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades to fuel 1-Gig downstream service as well as a new minimum tier that delivers up to 200 Mbit/s (downstream) that are both paired with slower upstream speeds. Charter and other cable operators intend to bridge that gap with Full Duplex DOCSIS, an annex to D3.1 that will enable symmetrical gigabit capabilities. (See Charter Races to Wrap Up DOCSIS 3.1 and Charter Goes on Big Gig Spree .)

Frontier's new, speedier offerings, powered by its GPON platform, are initially available to about half of its Fios and Vantage Fiber footprints, with plans underway to expand on that this year and throughout 2019, a company official said.

Frontier's Fios footprint (coming by way of the deal to acquire certain Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) wireline operations that closed in the spring of 2016) includes major urban areas in Southern California and six counties along Florida's Central West Coast (generally the Tampa Bay region), as well as parts of Dallas, Indiana, Oregon and Washington. Its Vantage Fiber footprint covers portions of Connecticut, North Carolina and Minnesota.

Frontier's new packages arrive as cable operators continue to dominate the residential broadband landscape. The top US cable operators added about 585,000 broadband subs in Q2, while the nation's largest telcos combined to lose about 130,000, according to Leichtman Research Group Inc. (LRG) . For its part, Frontier lost 32,000 broadband subs in Q2 2018, lowering its grand total to 3.86 million.

The new 200-Meg introductory tier also enters the fray as Frontier and other wireline broadband service providers gear up for a new wave of competition from 5G Home, Verizon's new fixed wireless broadband service that was launched on October 1 in limited parts of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. Verizon's new offering, which starts at $50 per month for existing Verizon Wireless customers, delivers "typical speeds" of 300 Mbit/s, with peak speeds of 940 Mbit/s. (See 5G Fixin' to Become 'Largest Existential Threat' to Broadband Providers – Analysts, Verizon's Home-Grown 5G Arrives Today and Verizon to Launch Fixed 5G Service on Oct. 1.)

Speaking on Frontier's Q2 call in late July, Company President and CEO Daniel McCarthy acknowledged that the company expects to "see incremental pressure" in Los Angeles and other markets that will tangle with new fixed 5G broadband services, but added that Frontier is "not as concerned" about that competition in the telco's fiber-to-the-home communities.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner 10/9/2018 | 12:17:33 PM
Wi-Fi EveryWare Some additional details about Frontier's new Wi-Fi EveryWare product. The service is currently available only to new customers (not for existing customers). For customers who need them, the WiFi extenders, made by Arris, are leased by Frontier for $6/month. JB 

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