Frontier vs. Verizon Debate Continues Regarding Communications in W.Va.

By: Brooks Jarosz; Anna Baxter Email
By: Brooks Jarosz; Anna Baxter Email

UPDATE from 6pm Tuesday
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The debate continued about who is best fit to serve as the main communication provider for the state of West Virginia.

Frontier Communications knows not everyone is on board, but they wanted to change all of that Tuesday.

Workers banded together to try and convince lawmakers and the Public Service Commission that this transaction will end up being the best connection for the state.

"We're confident that when you actually look at the facts, look at our proven track record that we do have here in West Virginia," Frontier's Paul Espinosa said. "The Public Service Commission and others will conclude this is a good deal for West Virginia."

It's a deal that Frontier believes has not only created opposition but false claims. One big misconception is that Frontier won't successfully expand high-speed Internet.

"Not only just broadband but bumping the speeds up so everyone can surf," Frontier worker Brian Schaefer said.

Espinosa said, "Ninety-two percent of Frontier's customers do have access to our broadband high speed Internet service. That compares to about 60 percent in the Verizon territories."

Another myth is that the transaction will lead to job loss.

"Anything that expands business here in West Virginia that's ultimately going to be good for jobs as far as enhancing job security -- this is very much a pro-jobs acquisition," Espinosa said.

Frontier believes job security will mean better service for its customers and not what many believe will be slow and non-existent.

"Say a trouble ticket: someone calls in and they don't have service. We're required within 24 hours to make sure that they're back up and working again," Schaefer said.

It's a plan they hope keeps us all more connected.

"You have to have faith that the business people are going to do what's best for their business," West Virginia Senator Karen Facemayer said.

Jan Vineyard with the Business and Industry Council said, "We are very much in favor of this. West Virginia needs the technology. We want the jobs. We want what the whole package will bring to us that we don't have now."

Frontier says they know about small, rural areas and will establish its southeast region headquarters in Charleston. That alone will add 30 to 40 jobs.

All of those existing labor contacts will remain constant for at least 18 months.



ORIGINAL STORY
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Communication Workers of America have had their chance to speak out against the proposed plan for Frontier Communications to buy Verizon's landline division. Now, it is Frontier's turn to talk.

The company announced that its employees in West Virginia plan to gather in the State Capitol's rotunda at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday.

“Our employees know and believe in Frontier and its commitment to West Virginia, especially to improving broadband availability and penetration,” said Ken Arndt, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Frontier’s East Region. “They are asked daily by Verizon customers, `When will we get high-speed Internet access?’ The answer is that the process will start as soon as the acquisition is finalized. For that to happen, the West Virginia Public Service Commission must approve the transaction.”

The CWA hosted a gathering on Sunday to express their concerns about the deal. They say Frontier is too small of a company to handle the workload that the much larger Verizon is having trouble dealing with now.

“In West Virginia, amid a very tough economic and competitive environment, Frontier is committed to working with all parties to reach a ‘win-win’ outcome. We want the best for West Virginia,” Arndt said.

The West Virginia Public Service Commission is also having a series of hearings starting Tuesday on Frontier Communications' acquisition of Verizon Communications' local wireline phone operations in the state.

This transaction would not affect Verizon Wireless.


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