Frontier bought out Verizon’s FIOS business in Texas, California, and Florida; some of Verizon’s (former) customers had shelled out $200 to buy their routers rather than endure the indignity of being charged a monthly rental fee by Verizon — but now, Frontier is charging them a rental fee even though they’re not renting a router. Frontier says that this is because supporting third-party hardware costs them so much that they have to charge a fee to recoup it.
Rich Son of Texas has asked the FCC to intervene with Frontier, who started charging him $5/month when they took over from Verizon and now charged his $10/month. Frontier has offered to stop charging him the rental fee — if he purchases another router from them.
The FCC, under the leadership of Trump-appointed chairman (and former Verizon exec) Ajit Pai, has declined to act on Son’s behalf. Other Frontier customers have tried (and failed) to get justice from the company.
To defend the fee, Frontier is trying to make the simple act of hooking up a router seem more complicated than it really is.
“I think it’s in Frontier’s interest to make it seem like this is some weird specialized equipment that communicates with their backend in some advanced technical way, but that’s not true,” Senior Counsel John Bergmayer of consumer-advocacy group Public Knowledge told Ars.
With FiOS fiber service, each house is equipped with an Optical Network Terminal (ONT), which does the heavy lifting of communicating with the FiOS network. Using your own router to set up Wi-Fi is not complicated even if it isn’t officially supported by the ISP.
“This is discriminating against users who want to use their own equipment,” Bergmayer said. Since “it’s just a standard router, it’s not some proprietary network interface where there’s a good reason for it.”