CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A week after becoming West Virginia's largest phone company, Frontier Communications has started to expand high-speed Internet across the state, the company's CEO said Friday.
Frontier technicians have identified areas where transmission cables need to be connected. Engineers have reviewed construction plans. By next week, some neighborhoods in West Virginia are expected to have access to high-speed broadband for the first time.
"It's about capital investment," said Frontier CEO Maggie Wilderotter, who was in Charleston on Friday to meet with company employees. "We're going to spend millions to bring high-speed Internet to neighborhoods that don't have it and increase speeds for those who already have it."
On July 1, Frontier took over from Verizon more than 600,000 telephone access lines in West Virginia. Frontier, which purchased the landlines in 14 states as part of an $8.6 billion deal, now has more residential and small-business customers in West Virginia than in any other state.
On Friday, Wilderotter reiterated a promise that Frontier would bring high-speed Internet to 85 percent of customers within three years. Verizon offered high-speed broadband to about 60 percent of its West Virginia customers.
West Virginia's broadband availability ranks 47th in the nation, according to a recent study. Frontier's plans boost that ranking to fifth or higher, Wilderotter said.
"We know how to deliver broadband to less-dense areas," she said. "I think that customers have been waiting for someone to come in who really cares about this state. That's who we are, and that's not the way it was before."
Frontier plans to place yard signs in neighborhoods to let people know where the company has expanded broadband. Customers should call Frontier, if they want high-speed Internet, Wilderotter said. In turn, Frontier will send technicians to customers' homes to install a broadband connection and wireless router.
Wilderotter said Frontier also would respond to customer problems -- phone outages and the like -- more quickly than Verizon. In recent years, Verizon was sharply criticized for slow repair times.
"If you have a repair, it should be done in 24 hours," she said. "It shouldn't take days."
Earlier this week, Wilderotter met with Frontier employees (former Verizon workers) in Fairmont. On Friday, she spoke to hundreds of company workers at the Charleston Civic Center, and then later met with employees in Beckley.