The Frontier Debacle
Frontier Communications took over the Verizon FIOS network on April 1st of this year. Five months later we at Infinitech IT Services are recommending that Frontier/Verizon customers find another Internet service provider. There is nothing positive about the way that this company handles its obligations as a business network communications provider – everything is a disaster (operations, customer service, billing, etc.).
The First Day
The Frontier cutover rolled over businesses and home like a bomb and plunged them into digital darkness. We fared better than other Verizon customers. Our service was back up, online, and testing well within eighteen hours. I saw some of my clients wait a few days for their service to return. Twitter was on fire for weeks as customers realized that this rapid-onset Frontier plague would stand in the way of their favorite televisions and on-demand shows.
Our office phones freaked out one morning in July. Calls to our main number would cause our phones to ring, but they would continue to ring when we picked up the line. The phone call could not be answered.
This was a troubling issue for me. We use the same virtual PBX as our customers. If our phones were experiencing issues, it was probable that our clients were as well. We received no distress messages from any of our clients, and eventually I was able to isolate the problem to our office LAN. Calls to our main number would cause the PBX app in our iPhones to ring, and the call could be successfully answered *IF* the iPhone Wi-Fi was disabled. The moment that we attempted to answer the call using the PBX app while connected to the office wireless network was the moment that the bizarre behavior started again.
I went over the circumstances of the issue with a supportive vendor who reported to me that he was seeing the same issue with some of his customers – the ones in Tampa and the ones that accessed the Internet on Verizon FIOS/Frontier data circuits. My Internet provider was filtering a very specific type of network communications between my office (where my phones live) and my datacenter (where the Infinitech PBX stack of equipment and services live). This type of “net-speak” (UDP & TCP port 5060) is the traditional doorway for real-time service over there the Internet (voice, video, etc.) If this communication is intercepted and killed, those two devices – in my case an IP phone and a PBX – will not be able to setup the connection, and I’m out of business.
Why would an Internet provider remove my ability to host my own business telephones?
Frontier Customer Service
My colleague and I were able to show that communication between my IP phones and PBX was restored when I configured both devices to talk using port 9061. The devices were functioning normally, but the path between them was being filtered. Frontier was filtering my connection. Case closed.
I chatted with a Frontier representative via their online service portal. I explained to them that they were filtering communication on port 5060. The representative cheerfully told me that port 5060 s not on their list of blocked ports. They asked if I was still having issues with my Internet service. So that yielded nothing.
I tried to call them and explain. I got nowhere. This was not a surprise.
My experience with the customer service department at Frontier is worthy of its own article. It sucked on every level imaginable. My experience with Frontier was worse than my customer service experiences with Comcast; which has a lower satisfaction & approval rating than the Internal Revenue Service. Frontier’s customer service is a special kind of awful.
The only thing that I could do to fix this problem – besides reconfigure my entire PBX environment to accommodate Frontier’s newfound gumption for the absurd, of course – was to anoint Bright House Business Class as my Internet service provider of choice.
I called Bright House Business Class and was operational on their lowest tier broadband-for-business plan within a day or so: $89/month = Internet, 2x analog lines, basic cable TV
Upon installation of our Bright House Internet service, my IP phones started working again. I changed nothing in my configuration or deployment methodologies. The phones were able to communicate with the PBX because the new Internet provider was not filtering the traffic.
If you are a Frontier / Verizon FIOS customer, I recommend that you switch to another provider if one is available. We recommend Bright House. Contact Lamont Young of Bright House Business Class at 727-667-3185 or firstname.lastname@example.org.