Frontier gets West Virginia's PSC approval for Verizon rural line purchase

Frontier (NYSE: FTR) now has the last state regulatory approval it needs to wrap its purchase of Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) phone lines in 14 states as the West Va. Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the deal.

West Virginia is the ninth and final state to approve the transaction, joining Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington.

The only remaining approval needed to complete the deal is the FCC, which has to approve the transfer of certain licenses for the transaction to close.

Getting West Va.'s approval for the Verizon-Frontier deal did not come without a fight. Since the deal was announced last May, West Va. unions and consumer advocate groups alike protested the deal, arguing that Frontier would not only be unable to maintain service levels because it would have to shoulder too much debt, but that it would not expand broadband availability in the state.

Similar to the conditions New England regulators mandated FairPoint meet in order to approve the acquisition of Verizon's lines in New England, Frontier's purchase of Verizon's lines comes with a number of strings attached.

Frontier, for one, agreed to spend $231 million to improve West Va.'s wireline network in addition to spending $48 million to increase broadband availability in the state by 2013. At the same time, the PSC ordered that Verizon put $72.4 million in an escrow account to improve West Va.'s wireline service. Although Verizon is reviewing the PSC's mandate, Frontier said it would honor the plan when the deal closes.

For more:
- see the release here
- The Charleston Gazette has this article

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