Frontier Gives Telco TV a Boost

Mari Silbey
News Analysis
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video

After a dismal couple of quarters on the telco TV front in the US, Frontier is hoping to add some spark with the launch of its IP-based FrontierTV service in Durham, N.C.

Frontier Communications Corp. (NYSE: FTR) announced that it will introduce FrontierTV to customers in select sections of Durham, beginning in January. While that's only one small region, it's also the first location in Frontier's footprint that wasn't previously owned by AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) or Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) to get the IPTV service, according to a report by FierceTelecom.

Frontier also said it plans to bring FrontierTV to customers on both its copper DSL network and its fiber-to-the-home infrastructure in Durham. The operator is using Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s Mediaroom video platform and will deploy wireless set-tops that it says will simplify the installation process.

Competition in North Carolina, and particularly in the Research Triangle area where Durham is located, has been surprisingly fierce of late. Frontier began offering an Internet tier with speeds up to 1 Gbit/s in Durham last year after AT&T announced it would deploy gigabit service there as part of an agreement with North Carolina Next Generation Network. Since then, Google Fiber Inc. has also said it will introduce gigabit broadband in the Raleigh-Durham area. (See AT&T GigaPower Wins Two NC Cities and Gigabites: Google Fiber Forges On.)

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Frontier's activity could be good news for telco TV vendors. If the operator needs a compelling TV service to make its broadband offering competitive, it will likely have to invest further in both infrastructure and customer premises equipment. Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) CEO Bob Stanzione noted in his company's last earnings call that he thinks Frontier will be in an investing mode after it closes on the acquisition of Verizon FiOS systems in California, Florida and Texas, a deal which Frontier believes it will complete in early 2016.

"I think Frontier will invest in expanding," said Stanzione. "That is fabulous plant." (See Arris Needs Pace to Help Recoup Telco Losses.)

On the pricing front, Frontier is reportedly willing to drop its fees in Durham to compete with other providers. The company will bundle data, voice and video for $150 per month with its gigabit broadband tier. When Frontier first launched gigabit service, it offered gigabit service at $220 per month. Triple-play packages in Durham with lower Internet speeds delivered over copper will start at under $70 per month.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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