TAMPA — Frontier Communications hoped for a “seamless and unnoticeable” transition when it took over Verizon’s landline, cable and Internet service on Friday.
It didn’t work out that way.
Frontier service was down for a large part of the Tampa Bay area on Friday morning, and while a company statement said an issue with the transition was resolved as of 9:30 a.m., customers spent much of the day logging complaints over lack of service.
Gerard Donelan, a real estate appraiser who works from home in South Tampa, was still without service Friday afternoon. “I talked to customer service about 10:30. ... He told me service was down in the Tampa Bay area, and he didn’t know when it was coming back, and there was nothing he could do,” Donelan said. “What a joke. These guys were telling us just yesterday how seamless this was going to be. My next phone call is to Bright House.”
The popular Zudar’s sandwich shop downtown was still unable to swipe credit cards or take phone or Internet orders at mid-afternoon. “It’s having a terrible effect on business,” said owner Eric Weinstein. “It’s absolutely an epic failure on their part. An amazing lack of customer service and communication.”
Weinstein said he was able to contact Frontier customer service, but a representative told him he had no idea when service would be restored.
On the busiest closing day of the week, Alpha-Omega Title on MacDill Avenue had no Internet service from the morning through Friday afternoon.
“This has been a complete inconvenience to our customers and our team,” said Lori Wilson, chief financial officer and co-owner. “I don’t know why they didn’t try to do this on a Saturday. Why do it on a weekday?”
Day 1 could prove to be a major embarrassment for Frontier, whose top Southeast executive, Mike Flynn, told The Tampa Tribune last month that the goal was to make the transfer “seamless and unnoticeable, but if we do have a bump, that we address it quickly.”
Frontier issued a statement Friday morning indicating that its transition issue had been resolved as of 9:30 a.m.
“During the early morning of April 1, 2016, a technical issue occurred during the integration of the systems Frontier acquired from Verizon that impacted service to some enterprise and carrier customers in Florida, Texas and California,” the statement read. “As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern, the issue was resolved. In addition, an unrelated fiber cut occurred that impacted customers in the Tampa market.”
That line break occurred in the Town ’N Country area west of Tampa International Airport. That problem was resolved around 6:30 a.m., said Frontier local spokesman Bob Elek.
He said the company could log as many as 500 to 1,000 trouble reports a day depending on conditions.
But Friday afternoon, he said there is “absolutely nothing widespread going on. Transitionally, all systems seem to be working well.”
As the complaints piled up Friday, Elek told Fox 13 News that Frontier recognized “there have been some issues” but there is no widespread problem with the system. “We should have everything back in working order, I would say, within the next 48 to 72 hours,” he told Fox 13. “I wouldn’t say that’s across the board; that’s an outside window.”
Frontier customers from Clearwater to Largo to the Gateway area of St. Petersburg to downtown and South Tampa complained of outages late in the day. They also took to social media to vent.
AT&T also reported a service outage Friday morning “affected by a local service provider issue.” A company statement said service had been restored by mid-morning. Elek said there was “a possibility” the outages were related.
Frontier acquired the Verizon landline, cable and Internet services in Florida, Texas and California in a $10.5 billion deal announced a year ago. The deal did not include wireless cellular operations and customers, which Verizon is keeping.
The Frontier lines pass through about 2 million households and 230,000 business locations in Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, Polk and Sarasota counties.