CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- Since buying Verizon's telephone landline business in West Virginia a year ago, Frontier Communications has spent $17.7 million to make high-speed Internet available to 85,000 additional customers across the state, a company official said Monday.
Stamford, Conn.-based Frontier reported that 76 percent of its West Virginia customers now have access to high-speed broadband, up from 62 percent in June 2010, when Verizon operated the state's landline network.
Frontier plans to expand broadband to 85 percent of customers by the end of next year.
"It is remarkable the progress we're making in bringing broadband access to rural parts of the state," said Dana Waldo, a Frontier vice president who oversees the company's West Virginia operations. "We're expanding broadband to every corner of the state."
Frontier took over nearly 600,000 landlines from Verizon in West Virginia on July 1, 2010.
At the time, Frontier promised the state Public Service Commission that the company would extend broadband to 85 percent of customers by the end of 2013. Waldo said the expansion is moving faster than expected. Frontier has built 305 remote broadband delivery sites during the past year.
Nearly all customers who get access to broadband for the first time are purchasing it, Waldo said.
"We've received petitions from communities that say they want it, and how soon?" he said. "That's the number one call I get from customers. It's a quality of life issue to be able to have access."
As part of the broadband expansion, Frontier also is building a 6,500-mile fiber optic network transport system across West Virginia. The company hopes to complete the project by the end of the year.
"It will be one of the most robust and reliable transport systems in the country," Waldo said.
Frontier also continues to improve Verizon's outdated landline network in West Virginia, Waldo said. On Monday, the company reported:
- Since July 2010, Frontier has spent $114 million -- excluding broadband projects -- to upgrade equipment and facilities in West Virginia.
- Frontier has hired 539 employees -- mostly technicians -- since purchasing Verizon's landline business. The company now has about 2,300 workers in West Virginia.
- Frontier's 40-employee "blitz crew" has renovated 145 "wire centers," locations that connect large numbers of cables.
- Network problems -- called "trouble reports" -- have declined by 16 percent during the past year. Frontier customer complaints filed with the state Public Service Commission also have declined significantly, Waldo said.