By: Brian Hallenbeck
AT&T customers shouldn’t worry that Frontier Communications’ $2 billion purchase of AT&T’s wireline telephone, Internet and video services will result in higher rates, a Frontier executive said Tuesday.
“We have no plans to raise rates at this time,” Cecilia McKenney, executive vice president for human resources and administrative services, said. “At the end of the day, we are buying this property to compete in the marketplace. That means we have to have great products, but they also have to be competitively priced.”
Frontier wants to hang onto AT&T customers and also win back those AT&T has lost to such other providers as Metrocast, Cablevision and Cox Communications, McKenney said.
Stamford-based Frontier’s agreement to acquire a big part of AT&T’s Connecticut business, announced Tuesday, must be approved by state and federal regulatory authorities, including the Federal Communications Commission.
State Attorney General George Jepsen said he will examine the deal closely.
“My focus will be on evaluating the effect that this transaction will have on quality of service provided at reasonable rates, as well as the impact on competition, Connecticut’s workforce and the state’s efforts to streamline and improve the use and control of utility poles,” he said in a statement. “Reliable and affordable wireline telephone service remains a critical public service in Connecticut. Even with the expanding use of wireless, landline service maintains a vital place in public safety and in the lives of many, many Connecticut residents, including our elderly and more vulnerable populations.”
Frontier, in a statement, said it expects the transaction to close in the second half of 2014. Connecticut would be the 28th state in which the Fortune 500 company operates.
The deal would enable Frontier to acquire some 415,000 data, 900,000 voice, and 180,000 video residential connections of AT&T in Connecticut, as well as AT&T’s local business connections and existing carrier wholesale relationships. It does not involve AT&T’s wireless business or its emergency 911 and interstate long-distance telephone services.
Connecticut customers would have access to the same products and services they now receive, including the U-verse suite of products.
Frontier would absorb 2,700 AT&T employees, and has agreed to honor the terms of AT&T’s contract with the Communications Workers of America, which extends to 2016, according to William Henderson, the union’s president.
Henderson said Frontier executives “had all the right answers” when he spoke with them Tuesday.
“They want to bring back the hometown telephone company,” he said. “They want to bring back the dispatching that’s now being provided from Ohio and Texas. They want to give quicker, better service.”