Frontier Communications today dramatically raised the cost of hooking up to its FiOS TV service for new customers — from $79 to $500.
The company also notified regulators in four Oregon cities that it’s opting out of franchise agreements there, clearing the way to stop offering Frontier TV services in those cities.
Combined with plans for a big FiOS TV rate hike that surfaced in January — but which hasn’t taken effect yet — Frontier seems to be on a path to phasing out its FiOS TV service altogether.
But spokesman Steve Crosby denied that’s happening, and said the company’s still evaluating its options.
“I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion yet,” he said, adding that “we are stil analyzing the business and figuring out what our cost structure is and the best way to treat our customers.”
Frontier is using the “opt out” period of the Oregon franchises “because we have to continue to analyze the business” before committing to another 12 years of service under those agreements. The company has “no current plans” to opt-out of franchise agreements in cities other than Dundee, McMinnville, Newberg and Wilsonville, Ore.
The Connecticut-based company took over Verizon’s wired phone, broadband and TV service in the West last year. Locally its service area includes parts of the Eastside of King County and parts of Snohomish County.
New hookup fees and the franchise changes affect only the TV service provided directly by Frontier. The hookup fees are for new customers, and are spread out over the first three months of service.
In January, when it disclosed plans to raise FiOS TV monthly rates by about 50 percent, the company suggested customers could switch to DirecTV and offered them free DirecTV service through 2011.
Crosby said the rates were disclosed prematurely but are still in the works.
“I imagine these rate increses will take effect at some point,” he said.