Frontier's West Va. broadband proposal gets state senate backing

Frontier Communications (Nasdaq: FTR), which became West Virginia's largest service provider when it purchased Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) rural lines in 2010, has received the state senate's backing for its proposal to target broadband rollouts at consumers who have no service at all.

A new bill that was revised by the Senate on Wednesday, reports The Charleston Gazette, requires the Broadband Deployment Council to allocate state funds to service providers that are offering broadband services to cities and towns "for the first time" versus those that are upping Internet speeds that have existing service.

The Broadband Deployment Council has over $2 million it will dole out to various service providers to expand broadband service.

"The highest-need areas will get money first," said Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, who introduced the amendment Wednesday.

Sen. Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, who voted for the amendment, said that the funds should target the estimated 85,000 households in West Va. still can't get Internet service.

"The Broadband Council should focus on households that don't have broadband right now, not on upgrading homes that already have it," Carmichael said. "It's not speed. It's access."

However, no everyone thinks this is the best solution. A number of senators said they need to ensure that users can get higher speeds and quality, adding that the amendment will only provide services only a minority of homes at a much higher cost.

Since completing its acquisition of Verizon's rural lines in 2010, Frontier said it has spent a lot of capital to bring broadband access to 158,000 additional households in West Virginia.

Last November, Frontier was reimbursed $29 million for making broadband and wireline telephone network upgrades in West Virginia. This comes on the heels of plans where it would start delivering up to 25 Mbps DSL services to 405,000 West Virginia residential and business customers. Eligible business customers would be able to get up to 40 Mbps speeds.

For more:
- The Charleston Gazette has this article

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