Frontier Hit $5M CT Fine for ‘Reckless’ Fiber Optic Work

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Connecticut utility regulators have ordered Frontier Communications to pay a $5 million fine for practices associated with the “reckless” installation of fiber optic cables throughout the state, and have asked the company to telecommunications based in Norwalk to stop work.

In an emailed notice to Frontier executives on Thursday, Connecticut Utilities Regulatory Authority officials said they believe the company is “endangering public safety through reckless underground installations and inappropriate in the public domain”.

A PURA spokesperson said the company could appeal the civil penalty.


“Authority’s investigation into Frontier’s installation activities indicates that Frontier and its contractors ‘deployed fiber optic cables in the public right-of-way using improper design and construction standards and specifications’ , which has caused and will continue to cause damage to underground natural gas and electricity distribution facilities,” 9-page manual said.

“These actions endanger the health and safety of the general public and the workers involved,” the order reads in part.

PURA’s cease and desist order requires the company to shut down “all underground facilities until Frontier demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Authority that the company can and will comply with all rules and regulations. applicable”.

The notice stated that “Frontier and its contractors have continually violated numerous laws and regulations,” including under the Call Before You Dig rules, despite warnings.

A Frontier spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment Thursday.

PURA officials claim that Frontier’s subcontractors have “used unsafe excavation practices for trenchless excavation”. In addition, regulators said the company’s contractor “inappropriately used existing electrical conduit for crossings and failed to properly notify utilities after contacting or damaging underground facilities.”

“Not only are Frontier and its subcontractors knowingly and willfully violating the law, but the subcontractors appear to fraudulently conceal violations in some cases using false conduits,” the regulators said in part. “The Authority has reason to believe that Frontier, through its contractors, improperly conducted numerous dangerous searches as part of its fiber optic network expansion:

The cease-and-desist order cites at least eight instances in which Frontier contractors damaged conduit for other utilities. In particular, the order cites a May 6, 2021 incident in which a contractor damaged a gas line at 166 Hull Street in Ansonia.

The investigation determined that the contractor had neglected to “dig by hand and expose the gas service under the driveway when attempting to cross the service, as required for trenchless excavations,” according to the order.

This contractor also, according to reports by Call Before You Dig, damaged utility lines seven times between mid-May 2021 and the end of last year.

Dave Weidlich, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1298, represents Frontier employees who are doing some of the installation work. Weidlich said officials at the union’s Hamden-based local “have been concerned about Frontier’s use of contractors for over two years.”

“We thank PURA for recognizing the importance of this issue and hope Frontier recognizes the value of using our Connecticut workers to grow the network,” he said.

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