Frontier Communications is a telcoms company so naturally they’re a terrible company (a telcoms company is just a collection of regulatory subsidies wrapped up in a layer of greed and malpractice); the company is one of the nation’s leaders in the use of fraudulent accounting to evade taxes, and it takes in $283.4 million every year in tax-funded subsidies to provide services to rural Americans, while ripping them off like crazy and cutting corners by neglecting its network and allowing it to fall into dangerous disrepair.
In Minnesota, the situation is so bad that state senators have petitioned the FCC to follow up on the state Attorney General’s investigation of Frontier’s systematic fraud and lack of maintenance, which found that the company charges customers for services it never delivered and refuses them refunds, while subjecting them to long outages (some lasting months!) without compensation. The AG found that Minnesotans were being left without 911 services for prolonged periods, and that the outages were disconnecting medical devices like pacemakers from remote-monitoring services.
Ajit Pai, a garbage person, is a former Verizon exec whom Trump made FCC Chairman. He has made a career out of campaigning against government waste and the abuse of taxpayer dollars, but he has vetoed any FCC participation in Minnesota’s investigations against Frontier, despite the literal billions the company receives at public expense.
Pai insists that Frontier is doing great and does not need investigating. As evidence for this, he cites Frontier’s own filings to the FCC.
“For a chairman who is so concerned with rooting out waste, fraud and abuse, it’s baffling that the commission tasked with overseeing billions of dollars in public money is declining to investigate the more than a thousand allegations of poor service by a company that receives that public money to provide those services,” US Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) told Ars in a statement today. (The Minnesota investigation was based partly on more than 1,000 consumer complaints and statements.)
Frontier is receiving $283.4 million each year from the FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF) between 2015 and 2020 to provide rural Internet service in parts of 28 states, including $27.6 million a year in Minnesota.