Entries in Verizon:VZ (20)


2011's Broadband Bonanza Means New "Explorations" in 2012

While researching for a profile on Paul Bunyan Communications several months ago, I was struck by the cooperative's 60-plus years of underdog status—a fitting 2011 year-end metaphor for many of the companies I talk to across the country. There, in Minnesota, was a cooperative that organized in 1950 to connect underserved areas, and was helped along in its goal by federal legislation that sought to improve rural telephone service. Now, as 2011 draws to a close and we look ahead to what 2012 will bring, many companies I've interviewed this year are still trying to reach underserved areas—this time with broadband—and doing so is part of the larger, national plan to bring valuable high-speed internet connections to every home and business, in every community. With the year ending, these companies and co-ops are also hoping that broadband subs will help offset landline losses; this may be the last year for such a ying-yang balance, too, as broadband growth slows and it becomes less likely these adds will be able to offset the losses going forward.

A sweeping dedication to broadband will certainly continue into 2012, but boy has the game gotten more complex.Thanks to the recent detailed analysis offered by our own Cassandra Heyne, I won't use this space to parse out the specifics of federal funding for broadband or other regulatory hurdles facing rural providers. But I would like to reflect on what 2011 has meant for the rural service providers, cooperatives, start-ups, and advocacy groups I've spent the year researching and interviewing. Whether the goal was to tap into vertical markets, harness the potential of the cloud, or test out new services and platforms, without a question the name of the game this year was broadband—how to build-out fiber networks, how to increase speeds, how to offers services via broadband, how to pool resources and efforts through alliances and consortiums, how to share resources and infrastructure, how to get into the data storage market, and so on. Ultimately 2011 centered on a challenge and a source of opportunity; both are captured in the phrase I heard over and over again—“broadband build-out."

2011: Betting on Broadband

Just last week, new ceo of 3 Rivers Communications David Gibson summed up one of the most fitting characterizations for rural and independent companies. In an interview for the Great Falls Tribune, he said that, without a doubt, “Fiber is the way of the future... When you replace all that copper [with fiber] the service quality is better; you get much faster broadband speeds. You can offer IPTV. It's just good all around, it's where we need to be to position ourselves.” But Gibson went on to note the snags in building out rural broadband—threats to funding by “problems... in the mechanics” of the new Connect America fund and threats of stiff competition from satellite and wireless broadband, encroaching cable companies, municipal-owned broadband and others.

This year, I've talked to rural co-ops, independent providers, advocacy groups and consortiums in Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Texas and the Dakotas, and for all of them, broadband was central to their goal of providing new services and connecting unserved or underserved rural communities. In some cases, broadband meant better connectivity for local high schools, community colleges or universities; in other cases, there were advances in telemedicine, improvements for tribal communities, or farming technologies. But in every case, the directors and spokespersons I interviewed insisted that broadband brought with it the possibilities for a changed community and more vibrant opportunities for rural residents and businesses. And they had examples of these improvements... many, many examples.

The question remains, however, do these broadband build-outs actually mean more stability for the ILECs and co-ops, many who find themselves in an increasingly competitive market? Will all of the federal dollars in broadband grants and build-outs in 2011 equal more advancements to rural areas in 2012? Will rural providers need to delve more deeply into new options like LTE and cloud services to remain relevant? Or will fiber as the “way of the future” actually mean subscriber retention and added revenue? These are all questions to investigate in the coming year, by talking to the experts on the front lines: the rural providers themselves.

2012: Building on Broadband, Exploring New Territory

Just recently we've seen announcements about IPTV and LTE—two services that are getting attention from rural ILECs and co-ops who consider them potential golden tickets. Most likely, 2012 will bring more in-depth look at what these services might mean for the independent communications provider industry—most specifically for the rural companies I talk to regularly. LTE's potential is up in the air (pun intended), but IPTV has already become a key talking point for ILECs who want to attract and retain customers in their communities. Earlier this year, we ran the numbers and found that, for the companies who disclosed that they provided video services, “their rate of decline in access lines... was sharply lower than those in the survey who did not provide data on video subscribers.”

Several of the companies I profiled to this year—Palmetto Rural Telephone Cooperative and Paul Bunyan Communications, to name two—named IPTV as central to their business strategy going forward. Earlier this month, Texas ILEC Valley Telephone Cooperative announced that it would offer a hybrid IPTV service that combines HDTV, DVR and cloud services through a single TV input and interface. And last month, Griswold Cooperative Telephone Company announced it would use its hefty $12.7m RUS loan, in part, to lay fiber that would support advanced services like IPTV.

As for LTE, it will be interesting to see what comes of the partnership between rural ILECs/ rural cellular providers and Verizon's Rural 4G LTE Program. Just last week, Pioneer Cellular (of Kingfisher, OK-based Pioneer Telephone) announced its first successful end-to-end data test with Verizon's 700 MHz spectrum, and so far Pioneer is just one of 13 rural providers partnering with Verizon for use of its LTE network. The goal, of course, is to provide LTE services in areas where Verizon does not plan to extend coverage, and, through the program, rural partners are allowed to build and operate their own LTE network, using some elements of Verizon's core network. Just as cooperatives and partnerships have helped bring fiber to rural areas, it's possible that partnerships between small, rural providers and the Big Guys could supplement existing services and retain customers. It's possible.

Ultimately the influence of LTE in rural areas remains to be seen, but it is a step toward spectrum use that so many rural providers have looked into but not developed. In my own discussions this year, I have heard numerous company spokespersons say that they were currently “exploring the possibilities” of spectrum for a variety of services, but had not made any definite commitments. Perhaps 2012 will bear the fruit of these, and many other, “explorations.”


Net Neutrality Fight Intensifies - In Washington Anyway

Seven Court Challenges Consolidated but not Akin

The digital ink is practically still drying on the September 23 Federal Register, where the infamous Open Internet Order (Net Neutrality) rules were finally published nearly 10 months after being narrowly approved at the FCC. As anticipated, Verizon wasted no time in filing an appeal, and the FCC likewise wasted no time in filing a motion to dismiss Verizon’s appeal. Challenges from six other organizations have quickly been consolidated with Verizon’s appeal, and the U.S. Appeals Court in Washington was chosen “randomly” as the venue for Verizon v. FCC. This very same court ruled in the Comcast case last year that the FCC lacked authority regulate the Internet, so things might get really interesting once this case gets rolling. All this action already, in less than 3 weeks!

Things also get really interesting when you look at where the opposition is coming from- Verizon was completely expected, but the first challenger was actually liberal media reform group Free Press who has been one of the most vocal advocates for strong Net Neutrality rules. Free Press contends that the rules do not go far enough to protect mobile consumers because mobile broadband providers are not subject to the same set of rules as wireline providers. Free Press policy director Matt Wood argued that the differentiation between wired and mobile broadband “[fails] to protect wireless users from discrimination, and they let mobile providers block innovative applications with impunity.” Free Press filed its Petition for Review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston.

Possibly in a coordinated effort to keep the case out of the D.C. Appeals Court, National Journal reports that Media Access Project, Media Mobilizing Project, Access Humboldt, and Mountain Area Information Network have filed similar petitions as Free Press in courts across the country, and “the groups could be looking to increase their odds of getting a sympathetic court…The more courts involved, the less likely it will end up in D.C., statistically speaking.” Well, it looks like the odds were against these groups, and the case will be heard in D.C. where Verizon filed. Yes, the liberal hard-line pro-Net Neutrality advocates’ petitions will be consolidated with Verizon’s decidedly anti-Net Neutrality appeal.

The crux of Verizon’s argument is that the Open Internet Order is “(1) in excess of the Commission’s statutory authority; (2) is arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act; (3) contrary to constitutional right, and (4) is otherwise contrary to law.” Verizon filed pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 402(b)(5) which grants the DC Appeals Court “exclusive jurisdiction over FCC decisions that modify individual radio licenses.” However, in its Motion to Dismiss, the FCC contends that the Net Neutrality decision does not modify individual radio licenses, and “402(b)(5) applies only when this Court is asked to review an FCC order that modifies specific individual licenses, not generally applicable orders like this one.”

The FCC’s Motion to Dismiss outlines a long list of precedents and legislative history where 402(b)(5) has only applied to specific modifications of individual licenses, not general rulemakings like Net Neutrality. The FCC argues that the Net Neutrality rules are “basic rules to govern the conduct of all broadband Internet access service providers, both fixed and mobile…not directed at any specific broadband provider and [do] not purport to modify any specific license.” A point that I found interesting in the FCC’s Motion to Dismiss was that Verizon, as a wireline and wireless provider, “would be subject to the Order even if it did not hold a radio license.” Even though the rules for wireline broadband providers are more restrictive, Verizon is challenging the wireless rules specifically—just like Free Press et al, only from a vastly different perspective.

From my Washington perspective, this rapid, polarized activity is fascinating and dramatic; but what does this all mean for the rural providers beyond the Beltway? RLECs have remained fairly neutral in this whole ordeal (The ILEC Advisor: Brace Yourself for the Net Neutrality Rules), aside from some grumbling about extra paperwork and network management rights. It gets stickier when you start thinking about the long-term implications of the Net Neutrality rules for small ISPs, especially considering the growing bandwidth crunch and the possibility that small carriers may no longer be able to collect fair access revenue to help offset network investment costs.

While following both the Net Neutrality and USF/ICC reform debates, I can’t help but ask: is the Net Neutrality fiasco a foreboding of what lies ahead for the USF/ICC reforms? Will it take 10 months for the final USF/ICC rules to be published, only to be slammed with opposition and heavy-hitting court cases within weeks of publication? This is mere speculation, but it is definitely interesting to compare the similarities of these two groundbreaking and game-changing rulemakings…

First, one could argue that both sets of rules are to some extent Chairman Genachowski’s special babies. They are both controversial decisions with potentially widespread ramifications spearheaded primarily by the FCC Chairman. Genachowski seemed to be the only commissioner who actually approved of the Net Neutrality rules, with the other four commissioners falling firmly on the left and right of his position. The Commission votes on USF/ICC on October 27, and with one commissioner short it will be interesting to see if Genachowski’s rules slide through unopposed.

Moving on, both sets of rules have been in the making for many years and have hit significant roadblocks along the way—USF/ICC reform nearly happened a few years ago and was scrapped when Commissioners couldn’t agree; and the Net Neutrality rules stumbled hard on the Comcast decision. The two sets of rules are both stretching the FCC’s authority over the Internet, and both have instigated a significant amount of tension between the industry, Congress, the FCC and consumers. There are familiar battle lines in both rulemaking proceedings—consumers vs. industry, industry vs. FCC, FCC vs. Congress. For example, the argument that consumers feel taken advantage of by telecom corporations could be used interchangeably to describe tensions in either rulemaking.

There is also considerable polarization within the industry, especially with USF/ICC, where ILECs, wireless and cable have been facing off with very little agreement throughout the proceeding. The final Net Neutrality rules, and the likely final USF/ICC rules, are largely the result of a so-called “industry consensus,” but the actual level of consensus in both situations is debatable. In both proceedings, extreme arguments that the rules (or lack of rules) will destroy innovation, stifle investment, and prohibit broadband deployment and adoption have been cited with high frequency by most stakeholders.

So, will the USF/ICC reform follow the same bumpy road as Net Neutrality once the rules are approved at the FCC? Will the Net Neutrality and USF/ICC rules primarily just maintain the status quo, or will they each deliver radical changes to help bring telecommunications policy into the broadband era, as they both promise to do? And, what are the short- and long-term implications of these two rulemakings together for RLECs?


Brace Yourself for the Net Neutrality Rules

After Nearly 10 Months, FCC Finally Sends Rules to Federal Register

Way back in December 2010, the FCC voted 3-2 to approve the Net Neutrality Rules to “Preserve the Open Internet.”  Republicans thought the rules went too far, some Democrats thought the rules didn’t go far enough—and this was just within the left and right sides of the FCC.  Since then, there have been appeals by companies and Congressional movements to try to prevent the rules from being implemented, all before the rules were even published in the Federal Register.  Well, the controversial rules have finally been submitted for publication as of Friday, September 16.  In a few short weeks the rules will be published, and will go into effect 60 days later, presumably on November 20.

Will the publication of these rules be the end of the years-long drama, or plant a whole new crop of resistance? Both Verizon and MetroPCS prematurely challenged the then-unpublished rules earlier this year, but were kindly told that they needed to hold their fire until the rules were actually published in the Federal Register.  It is unlikely that they have forgotten about this in the past eight months, and other companies may also join the crusade against Net Neutrality once they have the green light to do so (i.e. when the rules are finally published in the Federal Register).

In addition to carriers, Republican lawmakers may also keep trying to prevent the rules from being implemented.  According to a September 13 Washington Post article, “lawmakers are expected to invoke the Congressional Review Act to overturn the rules, experts say.  Republicans have been particularly outspoken critics of one of the FCC’s biggest policy initiatives under Chairman Julius Genachowski, calling the open Internet policy an overstretch of the agency’s authority.”

The Net Neutrality debate lines have generally been drawn between Republicans and telecommunications/ Internet service providers on the “Rules will Destroy the Internet” side; and Democrats and consumer advocates on the “Rules will Save the Internet” side.  It has become one of the most politically polarized telecom policy debates in recent history, which is certainly notable (but probably not in a good way).  For a while, it seemed like people—industry experts and lawmakers included—were just agreeing with whatever side happened to represent their personal political views without actually thinking deeply about the telecom policy implications.

Where do RLECs stand in this debate, once political affiliations are removed from the equation?  I wouldn’t expect the same level of legal resistance by small companies as I do from Verizon, etc., but that doesn’t mean the RLECs are necessarily happy about the rules either.  They just have bigger battles to fight right now, obviously, and trying to appeal these rules would definitely be a costly and time-consuming affair.

What RLECs can expect, however, is paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork—and probably some new legal fees as well.  The rural associations have remained fairly neutral on the Net Neutrality debate this year, but Mike Romano, senior vice president of policy at NTCA, provided the following statement when asked about the rural perspective on the Net Neutrality rules:

“Our most significant concern at this point is that the rules must be sufficiently defined to enable compliance by rural telecom companies.  These are small businesses who cannot bear the costs of complying with overly burdensome or vaguely defined requirements.  We also hope that the rules will be applied and enforced consistent with long-standing rules that have worked in the telecommunications industry for years to prohibit unjust and unreasonable discrimination, rather than requiring compliance with newly developed standards that are more strict or unclear.“

One the rules are published, we should be able to better analyze how RLECs will be impacted.  Until that time, you can take bets with your friends on which company will be first to challenge the rules in court.


Building for the Future: Gig.U's Investment in 1GB Networks

Public/Private Partnerships Spur Ultra-High-Speed Internet

When Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) announced in early 2010 that it would build a 1GB fiber network in one lucky city, the company received more than 1,100 applications. Eager citizens and local organizations made the case (sometimes in outlandish ways) for why their cities needed ultra-high-speed networks for their businesses, schools, hospitals, local government, and homes. Elise Kohn, program director for University Community Next Generation Innovation Project (a.k.a., Gig.U), says the Google experiment demonstrated an unprecedented desire for ultra-high-speed networks across the country, making a strong case for why ultra-high-speed networks were essential to U.S. growth. But, as a national investment, who would be willing to pay for such extensive infrastructure? And what sectors would make immediate use of such robust connectivity? According to Kohn and Blair Levin, who is heading up the Gig.U project, research universities and their surrounding communities will be the foundation of the 1GB revolution. These communities conduct top-notch research, scientific innovation, medical advances, and so on, which makes them a vital test-bed for ultra-high-speed capabilities. In short, research universities both “consume and create,” in Kohn's words, and will allow us to see what's capable in the future with 1GB.

“We're not saying everyone in America needs a gig—that's why this is a targeted investment where there's highest demand and highest yield,” Kohn says. At research universities, innovation and development would benefit from faster broadband speeds and even allow new advances in science, engineering, and medicine—key fields to U.S. global competitiveness. “If you look internationally or at what's happening at research universities,” according to Kohn, “there are important reasons that, if you want to be ahead, [1GB] is where it's going.” Not only would an ultra-high-speed network allow for smooth videoconferencing and webcasting, but the improved capabilities and data transfer rates would encourage the development of new applications, research opportunities, and learning tools. As just one example, Kohn sites current innovations in medical technology that, with advanced network capabilities, allow surgeons to practice on life-like 3D projections when training for open-heart surgery.

Kohn also highlights technologies already implemented at Case Western Reserve, a school that she calls “a great champion of Gig.U's plan.” Case Western is one of Gig.U's 30 members and last year set up a pilot program connecting a several block area surrounding campus. The Case Connection Zone now provides 1GB fiber-optic networking to more than 100 homes and has been a test bed for what Gig.U plans to do across the nation. “A number of our members [universities] are very well connected on campus,” Kohn says, “so that's not necessarily where we need to fill a need. But staff, faculty, and researchers go home at night, students live off-campus... and the research and development—the advanced work that they're doing—continues there.”

These dynamic research communities can also attract new businesses to a town or city, according to Lev Gonick, chief information officer at Case Western. Gonick said that within three months of implementing Case Connection Zone, three startups moved to the neighborhood. “Gig.U members came together to address our unique connectivity gap. We intimately understand that for American research institutions to continue to provide leadership in areas important to U.S. competitiveness, we have to act to improve the market opportunity for upgrading the networks in our university communities. We believe a small amount of investment can yield big returns for the American economy and our society,” says Gonick.

And Gig.U agrees with Gonick's more national focus. Its entire leadership team has direct experience with America's broadband needs (and lack) from working in various capacities at the FCC. Levin served as director of the FCC's National Broadband Plan, where he asserted that broadband was essential to American growth and competitiveness and that ultra-high-speed would be key to cutting edge research and development. Kohn says the National Broadband Plan also revealed that ultra-high-speed was not something the federal government would be able to invest in, at least in the short term. So early this year, Levin contacted CIOs at several universities to get the conversation going, and at the end of July Gig.U's project was announced publicly.

Gig.U's member universities come from nearly every region of the country—from the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico to the mountains of Colorado, and from the heartland states of Nebraska and Illinois, to coastal communities in Maine, Florida, and Hawaii. Most importantly, the research universities of Gig.U represent midsized communities which could potentially benefit from advanced connectivity, according to Kohn. “The universities in Gig.U have strong relationships with the communities around them,” Kohn says, “so we're allowing the universities to do the outreach to communities and surrounding areas [to explain the Gig.U initiative].”

Karl Kowalski, chief information technology officer for the University of Alaska System, says he thinks Gig.U's public/private partnership will bring value for the community surrounding University of Alaska. “While much has been done to connect the University of Alaska Fairbanks to major research networks,” he says, “our communities, our partners and our state could advance this research through innovative testbeds and community involvement if ultra-high speed networks were available to all.”

At West Virginia University, another of Gig.U's member companies, Chief Information Officer Rehan Khan says that the group is looking for proposals in order "to deploy networks not in decades but rather within the next several years." The school, along with Gig.U's other members, hopes that new networks will spur local economies and job opportunities in their regions. Jay Cole, WVU chief of staff who initiated the University’s involvement in Gig.U said, "It is the general population we are seeking to serve and encourage to use University innovation to create new jobs and improve the economy."

On Aug. 18, Gig.U issued a Request for Information in the form of an open letter, saying the group will “consider ways in which multiple Project communities can work together... to improve the private sector business case for next-generation networks.” Kohn says the group has sought input from a variety of communications providers—from national providers like AT&T (NYSE:T), Comcast (Nasdaq:CMCSA), Frontier (NYSE:FTR), Windstream (Nasdaq:WIN), and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), to regional providers like Blackfoot Telecommunications Group in Montana and Smithville Communications in Indiana. “We are doing direct outreach to them,” Kohn says, “and they are also coming to member companies and expressing interest. We've also talked with Google, Lucent (NYSE:ALU), Cisco (Nasdaq:CSCO), and anyone involved in the ecosystem. If providers in the vicinity of one of our members have an idea for how to meet the needs of that community, together, they should definitely respond. It's a learning exercise.” The Request for Information period will end in November.

It's still hard to tell what Gig.U will look like when implemented, but Kohn says much of that will depend on the specific needs and the network configuration of each member university and its community. The group is not seeking federal funding, however, and new network build outs would be funded by Gig.U members as well as private-sector companies and non-profits who join the project.

When asked about the precariousness of a “build-it-and-they-will-come” approach, Kohn said that scenario isn't really a concern in Gig.U's case. “Research universities and the communities around them already have a history of development, and this really creates a cycle of opportunity.” Kohn says this is not unlike the progression to high-speed from dial-up, in the way that high-speed has become a new standard, while creating new applications and advancements. “The risk/return profile for a private company to help build out these networks is better because of the universities,” according to Kohn. “They're more tech-savvy communities. Give them access now and they'll understand what they can do, and with those advances, more and more will start to need it."


West Virginia and Appalachia: The New Broadband “Frontier"

Frontier Communications Boasts Improvements in Rural Broadband

West Virginia is a state of many contrasts, and when it comes to technology, the Mountain State is both forward-looking and caught in the broadband gap. This month, the state's flagship school—West Virginia University—was named one of the nation's “most wired” by Hospitals and Heath Networks Magazine for its technologically innovative healthcare facilities; WVU is also a founding member of Gig U, an initiative that seeks to bring ultra-high-speed broadband to campuses and communities to spur economic growth. On a state level, the West Virginia Small Business Technology Education and Competitiveness Initiative has worked to promote broadband in the region through WV Connectivity. And still, a recent survey of economic development professionals in West Virginia found that many areas continue to be unserved or underserved, with one respondent declaring, “Prospects don’t look here because of the lack of high-speed, affordable, reliable broadband…. Current speeds of up to 3 Mbps, while [they] may be suitable for residential use, are not suitable for business.”

Enter Frontier Communications (NYSE:FTR), which has taken some dramatic steps to improve rural broadband availability in the past year. Company executives at Frontier like to point to what could be a game-changing statistic for West Virginia: broadband access is up 1500 basis points since June of 2010; now 76% of West Virginians have access, as opposed to only 62% less than a year ago. Frontier projects that the current levels will increase, too, stating that by the end of next year, penetration rates should be 85%—a goal set by the FCC when Frontier purchased a large portion of rural lines from Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) in 2010. Of Frontier's new customers, 85k homes and businesses now have DSL broadband that previously did not have access to wired broadband.

It was just last May that the FCC approved Frontier's acquisition of 4.8m Verizon lines, most of which were in rural and smaller-city areas across the country, and 600k of which were in West Virginia. The sale totaled $8.6b and included “significant deployment commitments from Frontier” that would “advance the goals of the National Broadband Plan” in 14 states in the South, Midwest and West, according to the FCC. This past year, Stamford, CT-based Frontier built 305 remote broadband delivery sites and overall is investing more than $300m in rural broadband—a commitment that Frontier says will catapult West Virginia to one of the top five states in the nation for speed and connectivity. As a boon to local employment levels, Frontier also boasts that it has returned 250 jobs from overseas to a third-party provider located in West Virginia.

Frontier vp Dana Waldo calls rural areas “our niche, our business model,” and adds, “We are keeping our commitment to the state, to our customers and to rural America. We want to keep West Virginia competitive by helping home businesses expand and small businesses flourish. Our broadband will enhance the use of e-mail, movie downloads, photo-sharing and website creation and content choices.” Similarly, the company's general manager Mitch Carmichael states, “We're probably the most impactful corporate entities in West Virginia”—a dramatic claim in a state that has, for decades, struggled to create new development sectors and new employment opportunities.

And it's true that West Virginians have cheered Frontier's broadband improvement, with many citizens, educators, and small business owners praising the company for finally bringing faster internet to their homes, schools, and workplaces. But some subscribers are still frustrated with the reliability of their new service and others say that their Internet speeds and levels of their current service don't qualify as “high-speed” Internet. The majority of customers outside of West Virginia's cities, such as Charleston, Morgantown, Huntington, Wheeling, and Parkersburg, only have DSL speeds of 3Mbps. Steve Andrews, a Beckley, WV, resident recently complained, “This company’s idea of broadband access is up to 3Mbps DSL while nearby states like Virginia and Pennsylvania are getting fiber or cable broadband speeds ten times faster.” Andrews then added that, on most days, his broadband speed is more like 800kbps, not the advertized 3Mbps Frontier promotes.

As for a more big-picture assessment, a staff editorial for The Register-Herald in Beckley offered glowing praise for Frontier's work in the state: “Frontier has more than lived up to its promise and, based on the most recent information released by the telecommunications company, the expenditures and system improvements that have been made are far ahead of schedule. […] Significant work has been performed on the landline system that serves the vast majority of West Virginia, but the exponential growth and offering of high-speed Internet access to Frontier's Mountain State customers will, in all likelihood, lead to huge economic opportunities.”

Frontier's plan for West Virginia and other rural areas is only in its early stages. As per the company's FCC agreement, Frontier is committed to deploying fiber to hospitals, libraries, and government buildings, with its MetroEthernet connecting businesses and schools to high-capacity internet through “traditional copper.” In recent months, Frontier also stated that it is completing a fiber optic ring between Clarksburg, Charleston, Bluefield, and Martinsburg called ROADM (Ring for Reconfigurable Optical Add Drop Multiplexer), referring to the electronic equipment in each of the four cities. ROADM will allow 88 different frequencies, each with a bandwidth capacity of 80Mbps.