I’ve been a happy Verizon Fios customer for many years and have recommended it to others repeatedly during those years, but things are about to change.
Meet The New Boss
Verizon has been slowly, quietly getting out of the broadband, video streaming and landline business bit by bit, and the states that are currently on the block are Texas, Florida and my own state of California. Verizon is selling all of its Fios and telephone landline businesses in these states to Frontier Communications. Prior to this, Verizon sold all of its landline business in 14 other states to Frontier.
From DSL Reports:
Verizon and Frontier Communications have formally announced that Frontier is buying another massive chunk of Verizon’s unwanted fixed-line network. According to a Frontier press release, the $10.5 billion deal will involve Frontier acquiring all of Verizon’s residential, commercial and wholesale customers in California, Florida and Texas. According to the companies, the acquired assets will include 3.7 million voice connections, 2.2 million broadband connections, and 1.2 million FiOS connections.
It’s All Very Hush-Hush
I only heard about this when I received a notice of a public hearing—to be held the day after I received the notice, during business hours—asking for consumer input on the deal. I’m convinced that kind of thing is just a regulatory hoop for Verizon and Frontier to jump through and consumers’ opinions don’t really matter, because Verizon’s gotten approval on every one of these selloff deals so far even though lots of consumers aren’t happy about it.
While Verizon and Frontier may not have technically been keeping the deals secret, they haven’t been making any effort to let Verizon customers know change is coming. At least, not until it’s a done deal. I’m still seeing Verizon Fios ads on TV, online and in my mailbox trying to recruit new customers in my area on a daily basis, and none of them carry any kind of disclaimer to let people who are signing up with Verizon know that their service will actually be provided by Frontier very soon.
If you don’t think that’s a little sneaky, then how about this: back in 2009 Verizon sold 4.5 million landlines and related assets to Frontier Communications in 14 states, and at the time said this about it:
“This transaction is part of our multiyear effort to transform our growth profile and asset base to focus on wireless, FiOS fiber-optic services and other broadband development, and global IP,” said Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive officer of Verizon. “All of Verizon’s remaining local landline operations have high concentrations of FiOS in more densely populated markets.”
That deal may have been drafted in 2009, but it took years for the transition to be complete. Now that it IS, Verizon suddenly doesn’t seem so interested in focusing on “wireless, FiOS fiber-optic services and other broadband development”.
I can’t prove it, but it seems pretty likely to me that Verizon had this mass sell-off plan in mind from the start.
What Should Verizon Customers Do?
For now, there’s nothing to do.
I have a contact at Verizon who says Verizon customers in Texas, California and Florida aren’t likely to see any changes to their service or the name on their bills for at least a few years, because it’s a huge deal, it takes time for the companies to jump through all those regulatory hoops, and transitioning all the administration/billing/back office stuff is a massive job.
As for me, I’ll wait it out until the final transition, at which point I’m sure Frontier will try to get me to renew my Fios services with them. Customers who’ve already been forced to make the move don’t seem very happy with Frontier, and at least three states are investigating consumer complaints against Frontier.
So when the dreaded day comes, I’ll have a look around to see what other services are available in my area. I was thinking AT&T Uverse maybe, but it seems AT&T has been quietly selling off pieces of its business too, and there have been numerous billing scam complaints against AT&T as well.
It took a long time, lots of hassle and plenty of money wasted to find a bundled home services provider I was happy with. I dread having to go through that process again.
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