Frontier Communications charts FTTP course post-Chapter 11

May 4, 2021
A lack of FTTP investment was cited as a major cause of the company’s previous financial woes. The new leadership at Frontier vows not to make the same mistake twice.
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By STEPHEN HARDY -- Frontier Communications Parent, Inc. emerged as the post-Chapter 11 version of Frontier Communications on April 30. Company management marked the occasion by laying out its fiber to the premises (FTTP) deployment goals, which are considered key items in keeping the company competitive.

A lack of FTTP investment was cited as a major cause of the company’s previous financial woes. The new leadership at Frontier vows not to make the same mistake twice.

“Today Frontier takes a critical step forward in its multi-year strategic transformation, emerging as a stronger company poised to lead in its mission of Building Gigabit America,” commented Nick Jeffery, recently ensconced president and CEO of Frontier. “With a healthier financial position, we now have the right foundation to reinvent Frontier by accelerating investment in our fiber upgrades and delivering innovative solutions for our customers. Together, our team will accelerate our momentum and unlock Frontier’s full potential. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the Company as we enter this new chapter.”

Frontier management has laid out a multi-phase FTTP deployment plan that builds on the company’s existing network as well as fiber upgrades completed last year. Those efforts saw 200,000 locations passed as of the first quarter of this year.

The company says the initial phase of its FTTP strategy foresees passing 3.4 million customer sites to enable a total of more 6 million homes and businesses to receive FTTP based multi-gigabit broadband. Frontier says it expects to pass approximately 495,000 additional locations this year as part of the effort.

The total number of homes passed in Frontier's footprint could exceed 13 million, management says.

Jeffery continued, “Our initial fiber expansion plan is a bold and ambitious undertaking that supports Frontier’s customer-centric strategy to become a fiber-rich provider with enhanced competitive positioning in markets with attractive returns. Through this plan, we will continue to deliver on our commitments to achieve improvements to our net promoter score, churn reduction, and wider customer and employee satisfaction. Our entire organization is energized and focused on the successful execution of our plan that will support Frontier’s mission well into the future."

Separately during its first quarter 2021 earnings call, Frontier management revealed that it plans $1.5 billion in capex this year, with the incremental cash cost for the FTTP deployment to be approximately $550 per location. The 3.2 million locations passed so far with FTTP have resulted in 1.3 million fiber-fed customers.

The FTTP footprint expansion will take place against the backdrop of an operational review of Frontier’s activities, including its FTTP approach, customer engagement, digital strategy, costs, and organizational structure and culture. Frontier expects to complete the review by this August.

Frontier states the Chapter 11 restructuring reduced its debt by approximately $11 billion and annual interest expense by approximately $1 billion. Its stock will begin trading on NASDAQ under the symbol FYBR at market open on May 4, 2021.

STEPHEN HARDY is Editorial Director and Associate Publisher of CI&M's co-brand covering the optical networking space, Lightwave.

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