Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Debt Pressures Nudge Rural Phone Companies Closer to the Edge

  • Windstream, Frontier, CenturyLink tied down by landine
  • ‘We haven’t even touched bottom yet,’ analyst says of industry
RF Vintage Dial Telephone phone

Source: Getty Images

Rural telephone companies have tried to embrace the future by offering cloud services, bulking up on fiber and pushing broadband, but their landline businesses and huge debt loads are keeping them stuck in the past.

Windstream Holdings Inc. may wind up in bankruptcy after an effort to finesse its debt burden instead led to a stunning court defeat on Friday that could leave it unable to refinance. CenturyLink Inc. slashed its dividend last week and faces an activist’s demand that it sell assets to bolster its balance sheet. Frontier Communications Corp., which halted payouts a year ago, ranks No. 1 on the list of deeply distressed debt issuers in North America.