[Commentary] The Federal Communications Commission took its first major step toward overhauling the controversial Lifeline program in a move that will punish not just low-income citizens but perhaps small, innovative service providers as well. Yes, Lifeline was once teeming with fraud, waste and abuse. Yes, the program still has significant flaws. And yes, companies that fail to provide adequate services should be forever barred from Lifeline for preying on some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Altice USA reported that total unique residential customer relationships grew +1.8% year over year during its second quarter 2020. That number drops to growth of 1.4% when adjusted to exclude customers greater than 90 days delinquent due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Altice reported its best-ever residential broadband net additions of 70,400 in Q2 2020 compared to 13,000 in Q2 2019.
The most likely scenario for success is the addition of broadband service to an existing electric or telephone cooperative’s portfolio. In this case, an entity with experience in running a customer-facing operation and network for decades simply expands its service. The cooperatives are already serving mostly rural customers and do not crowd out for-profit cable and telecom providers. The Federal Communications Commission has recognized this and has explicitly included electric cooperatives in the Connect America Fund II initiative.
Frontier will pay a $900,000 fine to Washington state after the attorney general's office found it has misled customers about internet speeds and charged them undisclosed fees. The bulk of the $900,000 fine will go to former Frontier customers in Washington. Earlier in 2020, Frontier sold its broadband services in three states, including Washington, to Kirkland-based WaveDivision Capital in partnership with Searchlight Capital Partners for $1.35 billion. WaveDivision renamed Frontier Communications Northwest as Ziply Fiber.