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FCC's Pai to Hill: FCC Will Keep an Eye on Frontier

FCC chair Ajit Pai said the FCC will monitor Minnesota's issues with Frontier Communications, but also signaled that the broadband provider appeared to be holding to its end of the broadband deployment equation when it came to Connect America Fund (CAF) II funding.

Related: FCC Releases CAF Broadband Availability Map

That came in the chairman's response to a letter from Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tim Smith, both Minnesota Democrats.

The senators had called for an FCC investigation into the company following a Minnesota Public Utilities Commission-prompted state investigation into, among other things, how it used the CAF II funds for broadband deployment.

The senators said the state investigation had concluded that the info Frontier submitted "has been 'too minimal for the [Public Utilities] Commission to perform the duties delegated by the FCC, including the authority to investigate and make findings as part of the Commission's obligation to certify to the FCC that the Connect America funds are used appropriately by Frontier.' The report recommends requiring Frontier to produce documentation of households where funding was used to serve previously unserved homes, and verify the service available to those newly served locations."

Related: FCC Hands Out CAF II Funds

Pai pointed out in his response that before the FCC authorized the CAF II subsidy to Frontier to serve some 47,000 Minnesota locations, the company acknowledged its obligation to build out under the terms of the funding or face penalties and enforcement actions and that Frontier has told the commission it has met or exceeded its deployment milestones in Minnesota and submitted the required reports and certifications to establish that. He also pointed out that the Minnesota PUC has annually certified to the FCC that Frontier "used the high-cost funds appropriately."

That said, Pai added that he had related the senators' information to staff and had asked them to "carefully monitor" the situation.

A Frontier spokesperson was not available for comment at press time.