Frontier exceeded very high expectations
When Frontier Communications proposed to take over the landline telephone operations from Verizon in 2009, Byron Harris filed a formal protest.
"We are concerned that Frontier will not have the necessary resources to remedy the many problems on the Verizon network," said Harris, then director of the consumer advocate division of the Public Service Commission.
But the deal went through, and Harris now praises Frontier.
"They (Verizon) were all about doing Band-Aid fixes and not spending any money," Harris told Daily Mail Business Editor Jared Hunt. "Now Frontier, to their credit, when they fix stuff, they fix it."
After acquiring the West Virginia operation, Frontier invested more than $300 million to improve the system by repairing its service and expanding its broadband, as promised.
"Because Verizon did such a poor job, (Frontier has) shown great improvement - but it's improvement from a lousy level," Harris said. "It's still not what we'd expect from a telephone company."
However, such a commitment also is a good business decision because the repairs protected Frontier's investment.
The PSC required Frontier to expand broadband to cover at least 85 percent of its customers, because West Virginia ranks above only Montana in access to the Internet.
The company beat the deadline by two years.
"We still have expansion plans," said Dana Waldo, Frontier's senior vice president and general manager in West Virginia.
"We want to bring access to every place we can in West Virginia where it's economically feasible."
Verizon was a good corporate citizen, which traced its roots in this state back a long way, becoming the largest landline provider in 1916.
But the company wanted out. Frontier wanted in.
West Virginia chose wisely in allowing this to happen.