Frontier Communications blamed its takeover of another company for widespread phone, internet and television service outages in California, Texas and Florida at a legislative hearing Wednesday, saying Frontier inherited corrupt data in its $10.5 billion acquisition of certain Verizon businesses last month.
Frontier West Region President Melinda White told California lawmakers that the data issue caused outages during the transition and an outpouring of complaints that its technicians weren't yet trained to handle.
Verizon spokesman Ray McConville and several other representatives did not immediately return calls or emails seeking comment Wednesday.
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California lawmakers on the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee questioned Frontier after thousands of customers in three states complained to state and federal regulators about spotty service since the April 1 takeover.
Some customers, including at least one California police department, say the inconsistent service has affected their businesses and emergency services.
"The complaints that I have heard are not just an inconvenience, they're a matter of life and death," said Jamie Beutler, who represents rural communities within the California Democratic Party.
More than 850 customers have lodged complaints with the California Public Utilities Commission.
The committee chairman, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, and vice chairman, Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, said the PUC should shoulder as much blame as Frontier for the outages because the agency approved the takeover and has been slow to address service issues.
Executive Director Tim Sullivan said the utilities commission will investigate the complaints and decide whether to seek court action against Frontier. It could also reconsider its approval of the buyout.
Texas regulators also approved the takeover.
Frontier acquired 3.3 million landlines, 2.1 million broadband connections and 1.2 million fiber-optic customers in the three states, according to a news release. Lawmakers estimated the outages to have affected tens of thousands of California customers alone.
White said Frontier expects to resolve existing issues related to the changeover by May 29, but customers continue to report problems in all three states.
In Texas, the public utility commission has received 568 complaints about Frontier services since April, spokesman Terry Hadley said. Complaints have fallen in the last few days, but Hadley said it's too soon to determine a trend.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has received 1,362 complaints regarding Frontier services since the takeover, spokeswoman Kylie Mason said. Another 433 complaints were filed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.