Frontier of California, Inc.'s proposed fiber optic deployment.
Click for enlargement.

    Major Announcement On    
      Frontier's Proposed High     
  Speed Fiber Optic Deployment  
     In Newberry Springs     

Posted: June 6, 2023
Newberry Springs Community Alliance
by Ted Stimpfel

Speedy Internet For Newberry
Is Being Planned

    Frontier Communications in Newberry Springs has a very poor image.  Is it deserving?  History says, yes.  Frontier is nationally known for its poor customer relations.  Even those who are satisfied with Frontier's connectivity go sour if they have to confront Frontier's customer service.

    For my needs, I have recognized Newberry's need for better Internet connectivity and I have been researching possible improvements for years, long before Frontier acquired Verizon's California landline assets in 2015.

    Then, with Frontier's takeover, there were new frustrations.  The only success I felt was, with the assistance of Supervisor Robert Lovingood, getting Frontier to designate Newberry as a priority to hook-up DSL service.  Unfortunately, Frontier's DSL was too slow for my needs.

    As I have previously blogged, much of my broadband efforts have been in association with the Inland Empire Regional Broadband Consortium (IERBC).  A difficulty that I have shared with the IERBC has been over Frontier's lack of communication.  There hasn't been any collaboration in Frontier's DNA.

    I have, however, recently seen a positive seismic shift in Frontier.  In coming out of its 2020 bankruptcy over a $17-billion debt, largely caused by Frontier's lack of a fiber optic structure, there now appears to be a favorable redirection in Frontier's operations.  It is aggressively moving to take advantage of the federal government's grants to improve its structure.

    One simple example of change was Frontier accepting an invitation from the IERBC to have a representative at the recent State meeting on May 16, 2023, at Cal. State U. San Bernardino, where a Newberry delegation consisting of Ron Beardshear, Pastor Charles, and his wife Gwen Patrick, Paula Deel, and myself, presented our community's data along with a brief descriptive community speech to the governmental and trade attendees.

    On June 1, 2023, Frontier of California, Inc., submitted an application to the State (CPUC) requesting a grant of $24,984,469.63, to service 1135 homes and 14 businesses in "Portions of the communities of Newberry Springs, Yermo, and Daggett."

    While Frontier would have been working on this proposal long before the above San Bernardino meeting, the meeting was highly important.  It emphasized and established the backbone to the State that Newberry Springs is highly qualified and deserving of Frontier receiving the full funding that it is requesting to service Newberry.

    Will Frontier's application initially acquire full funding?  I highly doubt it because the application is for a grant under the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF).  There are not enough CASF funds available to meet anywhere near the submitted applications.

    But that is OK.  The Frontier application will likely be rolled over to California's application for a federal grant that is expected to be upwards of $900 million to $2 billion.  Funds for broadband are flowing and can be seen here.

    What excites me is (1) Frontier's proposal includes almost everything that I wanted, especially fiber optic service to the door, and not a cheaper "Last Mile" WiFi service; (2), that 75% of the fiber optic cable will be trenched, providing greater protection from high winds and dependability; and (3), I believe that Newberry's delegation at the CSUSB meeting has made it possible for Frontier to acquire its full grant request.

    There is no guarantee that Frontier's request will be smooth sailing, and Newberry might later need to do a letter writing to support Frontier, but I feel that Newberry is well positioned.

    Frontier is estimating in its proposal that the deployment will exceed the grant by nearly $4 million that Frontier will contribute.  The reality of this isn't known, but Frontier's proposal is uplifting.  Newberry will be very expensive to provide to-the-door fiber optics.  Frontier is taking the challenge.  Hopefully, the State will fund it.

    These are Biden dollars meant to make America competitive with the world and to close the Digital Divide in an equitable manner.  Equity was a term repeatedly demanded by Newberry during the delegation's speech at the CSUSB meeting.  I believe that the delegation's efforts were recognized.

Snippets from Frontier's proposal.

    The Frontier proposal states that it "includes 214.11 miles of planned fiber and 2 central offices to connect 1,149 Priority Eligible and Eligible locations with premier Fiber-To-The-Premises (FTTP) symmetrical services."  (Symmetrical meaning the same fast up speed as down speed.)

    The timeline for Construction through Project Closeout is estimated to be approximately 18 months after final permit approval if the project is categorically exempt from CEQA or approximately 24 months after CEQA resolution approval.

    Frontier offers qualified low-income households affordable Internet service through participation in the Federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

    ACP is a non-transferable (from one person to another) government assistance program that provides a discount on the cost of broadband Internet access service. Once a household's ACP eligibility has been established, they may sign up for one of Frontier's low-income product offerings. Frontier service plans currently available to ACP-qualified customers include the following fully symmetrical offers:

Fiber 100 Mbps: $  0.00 month ($29.99 with a $29.99 ACP credit)
Fiber 500 Mbps: $19.99 month ($49.99 with a $30.00 ACP credit)
Fiber 1 Gig:        $39.99 month ($69.99 with a $30.00 ACP credit)
Fiber 2 Gig:        $69.99 month ($99.99 with a $30.00 ACP credit)
Fiber 5 Gig:      $124.99 month ($154.99 with a $30.00 ACP credit)

In addition, Frontier offers the following low-income programs to its California customers. These programs provide symmetrical minimum speeds of 50 Mbps, where available.

• Frontier Affordable Broadband requires customers to be enrolled in Lifeline telephone service; rates for Broadband are $13.99 per month.

• Frontier Fundamental is a stand-alone low-income broadband program that does not require a customer to purchase telephone service. The current rate is $19.99 per month (includes $14.99 internet service plus a $5 monthly router charge).

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© 2023 Ted Stimpfel