The FCC has approved Frontier's plan for restructuring out of bankruptcy, which includes allowing it to complete what amounts to a transfer of control from the old company to the restructured one before the FCC authorizes its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I support. It was one of the winning bidders in the recent auction for rural broadband buildout subsidies.
That is part of a $1.4 billion investment the company has said it planned to make in building out its network.
"We have thoroughly reviewed the record, including the supplemental information submitted by the Applicants, and we conclude that the transaction serves the public interest, convenience, and necessity and meets the requirements of the Act," the FCC said.
A bankruptcy court approved the plan Aug. 21.
The Communications Workers of America had asked the FCC to hold off on the decision until it collected more data on the restructuring's impact on workers and until it had reviewed the results of state regulatory reviews, but the FCC declined to do both.
"Based on the record, we find no merit to CWA’s and TURN’s concerns regarding service quality, competitiveness, workforce, including CWA’s members, and operations," it said. "Indeed, we expect that Frontier is more likely to improve service quality and invest in infrastructure than it would be absent its prompt emergence from bankruptcy."
It pointed out Frontier had promised that “all employee wages, compensation, benefit programs, and collective bargaining agreements in effect as of the Plan’s effective date will remain in place.”
CWA said it would continue to monitor the deal.
"In the absence of an investigation of these issues by the FCC, some states like California are pursuing thorough oversight that is resulting in strong commitments to ensure the bankruptcy reorganization will benefit the public," CWA said in a statement. "Frontier’s recent proposed settlement to the California Public Utility Commission to gain approval of the bankruptcy restructuring plan included a commitment of $1.75bn in new capital investment, 350,000 new fiber to the premise connections, and a commitment to maintain technician staffing levels and California call center locations required to perform this work. CWA will continue its advocacy for other states to follow suit and for Frontier to use its enhanced financial flexibility to invest equitably across all the communities it serves."
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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