Frontiers presence grows’

July 14th, 2013

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Last updated: July 14, 2013 6:57 p.m.

Frontiers presence grows

Communications company moves central region headquarters to city

Paul Wyche | The Journal Gazette

At month's end, Frontier Communications Corp. will host a board of directors meeting at its new central region headquarters – Fort Wayne.

It has been three years since Frontier walked through the door Verizon Communications Inc. exited. From Day 1, the Stamford, Conn., company said Fort Wayne may be the second-largest city in the state, but it would receive first-rate phone, Internet and television service.

The elephant in the room, of course, is Comcast Corp., the Philadelphia-based rival that recorded $62.6 billion in revenue last year, compared with Frontier's $5 billion. Still, Frontier officials feel they're holding their own.

And the decision to make the Summit City a regional hub may speak to the region's importance to the company.

With $1.86 million in franchise fees in 2012, Comcast leads Frontier, which paid only $842,460 in comparison.

The home services companies must pay the city 5 percent of either gross annual subscriber receipts or the franchisee's gross annual receipts, whichever is higher. Cable providers typically don't reveal a customer count, but franchise fees are a gauge of their market share.

Along with its cable, Internet and phone services, Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which operates 30 news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures and Universal Parks and Resorts.

Frontier has never tried to pretend that it's the size of Comcast, only that it can deliver competing services.

Beatrice Mitchell is pleased with her phone and Internet bundle.

"I just moved back here from a suburb near Houston and somebody said Frontier had a deal," the Fort Wayne retiree said. "When they installed it, they were so helpful."

Mitchell said installation was free.

Frontier got different reviews two years ago, when it imposed a 30 percent increase on FiOS television customers. The company said it couldn't negotiate lower programming fees, resulting in viewers paying an extra $30 a month.

As a balm, Frontier began offering customers a chance to switch to DirecTV free for a limited time.

That's the past, and leaders at the business say they are clearly focused on the future with a reorganized central region, comprising Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska. The alignment was announced this month.

Frontier Area President John Lass moved to Fort Wayne from Burnsville, Minn., the former central region headquarters. He said the restructuring won't result in any new jobs or investment.

"Fort Wayne is very important to us," said Lass, who works from Frontier's 8001 W. Jefferson Blvd. location. "We made the decision to relocate for several reasons, including Fort Wayne's resources, employee pool; we just like being in the fabric of Fort Wayne."

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