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How Nick Jeffery Is Reinventing Frontier Communications

After moving the company’s headquarters to Dallas last year, CEO Nick Jeffery has built the formerly bankrupt enterprise into the country’s largest pure-play fiber provider.
| |Kathy Tran
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Kathy Tran

Nick Jeffery says he fell into telecom by accident. Growing up in the U.K., his father was an artist by trade and a Royal Air Force navigator in the Second World War. His mother was a primary school teacher. He jokes he was useless at both art and education. He was a less-than-stellar accountant, which was his first job after earning an economics degree in England at the University of Warwick. 

He shifted gears and opted to try his hand as a graduate trainee at Mercury Communications, a startup built to rival the U.K.’s largest cable providers. It was there that he found a “canvas to paint on,” the CEO says. “Because the company was so new, nobody had ever done anything like it before,” he continues. It was the perfect place to learn—and it did not take long for him to make an impact. Jeffery built out a B2B phone service wholesale revenue stream for Mercury, and by the time he was 25, the P&L grew to £400 million—eventually the P&L ballooned to more than £2 billion.

He went on to form Vodafone’s Internet of Things connectivity unit from scratch, a software solution that connects more than 150 million global devices to a range of network technologies. It produces about £1.2 billion for the conglomerate. Jeffery also created Vodafone’s B2B operation—a unit that now accounts for about £12 billion in revenue. 

Both opened the door for him to resurrect the company’s home market. At the time, revenue and EBITDA were shrinking. “The business was written off,” he admits. “But after five years, our EBITDA growth was in the double digits.”

Come 2020, Jeffery moved to the U.S. to take on a new role as the CEO of Frontier Communications. He was to turn around and completely remake the bankrupt internet provider, which was founded in 1935 as a public utility corporation. Like Vodafone’s home market, Frontier’s revenue was shrinking, EBITDA was sinking, and customer satisfaction was low. After filling out his C-suite and hiring an entirely new board over video calls, Jeffery questioned if Connecticut was the right home base for the company. 

Despite never visiting DFW, he says, “I knew it was a city of opportunity.” So, in 2023, he planted Frontier’s global HQ in Uptown. 

Over the next decade, Jeffery expects Frontier to create and retain 3,000 local jobs and generate $3.8 billion for state and local economies. Early returns suggest the move has paid dividends. In 2023, for the first time in over 10 years, Frontier delivered positive adjusted EBITDA growth. Its total revenue was $5.75 billion and adjusted EBITDA $2.13 billion. 

Of course, the relocation isn’t the only factor. Jeffery guided Frontier to shift its entire system from copper-based networks to focus solely on fiber broadband connections. Fiber moves at the speed of light and is less susceptible to interference from electromagnetic signals, weather conditions, or electrical resistance—making the connections more reliable than traditional copper connections.

Since taking over, Jeffery has led Frontier to double its fiber footprint. In a few years, the company will have more than 10 million fiber locations built out. It currently has about 6 million locations established and has been building at a pace of 1.3 million homes a year. 

Jeffery has also helped raise about $3 billion in debt through traditional markets for Frontier and another $2.1 billion through a securitization—becoming the first publicly traded company in the U.S. to secure funds backed by fiber-to-the-home assets. “We’re already a successful American turnaround story,” he says. “We’ve already grown to become the largest pure-play fiber provider in the U.S., and I don’t see that changing.”  

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Ben Swanger

Ben Swanger

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Ben Swanger is the managing editor for D CEO, the business title for D Magazine. Ben manages the Dallas 500, monthly…
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