Frontier blames Verizon's bad data, call center miscommunication for California's outages

Frontier Communications attributes some of the outage and network issues its customers faced in California to corrupt data it received from Verizon (NYSE: VZ) after acquiring the telco's wireline assets in three states.

On Wednesday, Frontier executives faced a group of regulators at an Assembly Informational Hearing that was called by Mike Gatto (D - Los Angeles), California's Utilities and Commerce Committee chairman.

CPUC Frontier hearing

Melinda White, head of Frontier's West region, speaks during a California Assembly informational hearing on outages related to its network cutover. (Screenshot)

Earlier in the month, Gatto called out Frontier for issues in Southern California, related to the telco's cutover following its purchase of Verizon's wireline network in the state.

During Wednesday's meeting, lawmakers called upon Frontier to devise a speedy resolution to a month of ongoing network issues.

Frontier, according to a Los Angeles Times report, cited three issues that as the likely causes of the problems in California.

Melinda White, Frontier's West region president, said during the process of switching over Verizon's systems to its own, the telco had to move over 200 million data files in just California.

One of the key issues with Verizon's computer records is that they consisted of incomplete or corrupt data, meaning that network terminal boxes such as modems and network interface devices (NIDs) at customer homes and businesses did not recognize messages that Frontier was trying to send to those devices.

What happened was that the boxes malfunctioned, which led to widespread service interruptions for the state's voice, video and broadband customers.

"We are sincerely sorry," White said during the hearing. "Even one customer out of service is one too many."

In addition, Frontier found that a number of serial numbers identifying some older network terminal boxes, including hundreds in Long Beach, were different than what was contained in Verizon's databases. This resulted in more customer outages.

During the initial days of the cutover, Frontier had to spend time retraining former Verizon technicians who began work at their company on how their system works.

White told the committee that Frontier needed to learn how Frontier's systems worked so they could resolve issues.

Another key issue was the temporary use of a Philippines-based call center. Frontier used that call center because it was the same one Verizon used to handle customer issues and the company assumed those customer service representatives worked with California customers before.

In many cases, the foreign call center workers did not relay repair requests to Frontier's dispatchers in the U.S. As a result, technicians did not show up to a customer's premises.

Frontier plans to transition off of the foreign call center to using all U.S.-based call centers by the end of July.

White said that the company will also make refunds to customers affected by the outages, which will be reflected in their June bills.

FiOS has been particularly impacted by the cutover. A number of customers who use the video on demand option still can't fully access their library of movies they purchased or rented when the service was run by Verizon.

White said Frontier expects the process to restore movies to individual customers' video-on-demand queues will take another month.

But this week's hearing is just one forum where Frontier will have to explain what is behind the outages in the state. The California PUC will hold a June 1 hearing in Long Beach to ask more questions about the problems Frontier saw after taking over the Verizon FiOS system.

For more:
- abc news has this article
- The Los Angeles Times has this article
- watch the hearing

Related articles:
Frontier redirects attention to Verizon cutover's bright spot, San Antonio
Frontier issues mea culpa to Dallas-Fort Worth customers, outlines improvement plan
Frontier lays out action plan to alleviate Florida customer pains
Frontier defends Florida performance to AG, says it is resolving remaining issues
Florida attorney general confronts Frontier over service issues