Frontier says sharing West Va. dark fiber network with Citynet would chill investments

Frontier told the West Virginia Public Service Commission that it should not be required to share dark fiber facilities with competitive provider Citynet, claiming that it would chill overall fiber network investments in the state.

Citing the FCC's Open Internet order issued in February, Frontier said that the telco does not have any obligation to share fiber with competitors like Citynet, which could use the infrastructure to deliver services to their business and residential customers.

However, Citynet said that Frontier has misinterpreted the FCC order. Citynet added that it should be allowed to lease Frontier's extra fiber to provide any voice or data telecom service.

"If the FCC and the West Virginia Public Service Commission were to adopt Frontier's desired position, the outcome would be that Frontier would no longer be required to provide dark fiber to competitive providers," said Jim Martin, CEO of CityNet, in a Charleston Gazette-Mail article. "The end result would be that the rural markets of West Virginia would continue to be served by Frontier as an unregulated monopoly with little or no hope of ever attracting competition for service, meaning that these areas will not ever experience the benefits associated with the free market."

Like other large telcos, Frontier has also been reluctant to sell dark fiber services to other local competitors.

The service provider said in a West Virginia PSC filing that if it was forced to share dark fiber, it would be inhibited from investing in its networks by being "forced to allow its competitors to share in the benefits of these facilities without participating in the risk inherent in such large-scale capital investment."

At the same time, the service provider said that selling dark fiber to competitors could have a rippling effect on fiber network investments throughout the state.

"If Citynet's interpretation of the Net Neutrality order is adopted, the fallout will be less investment in fiber-optic cable for broadband in West Virginia," said Frontier spokesman Andy Malinowski. "Citynet will have no incentive to invest in laying new fiber because it will be able to use Frontier's fiber at steeply discounted prices."

Since acquiring Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) rural lines in 14 states in 2010, Frontier has invested over $500 million in its West Virginia fiber network, enabling it to increase Internet availability to nearly 90 percent of residential households in the state.

For more:
- The Charleston Gazette-Mail has this article
- Washington Times has this article

Related articles:
West Virginia regulators send Citynet-Frontier dispute to administrative law judge
Frontier gets FCC approval of 3-state Verizon wireline deal
Frontier: soon-to-be-acquired Verizon wireline assets see $1.45B revenue climb

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