Frontier Behind Schedule On Internet Upgrades

Marlinton, WV – Allegheny Mountain Radio recently conducted an online survey to gauge opinions about Internet service in Pocahontas County. Seventy-six people responded to the survey.
98-percent reported Frontier as their internet provider.

17-percent rated their internet service as excellent or good. 26-percent rated their service fair and 57-percent reported their internet service as poor or terrible.

As their worst problem, 38-percent reported download speed; 30-percent reported dropouts and establishing a connection; and 7-percent reported upload speed as the as their worst problem.
Frontier Communications Elkins-area general manager Reta Griffith, say surveys usually attract negative responders.

“Most of the time, people don’t respond to surveys when they’re happy about something,” she said. “That’s my first, initial reaction to that. However, I would be interested in knowing more of what those reasons are.”

The manager says Frontier has been working on local Internet lines this month.

“We’d originally looked at expanding the current bandwidth pathways out of Pocahontas County,” she said. “We actually created a new one, so we would have a third pathway out of Pocahontas County and we have been working for the past month, trying to get that implemented and turned up.”

The manager says outdated equipment throttles internet speed.

“Most of the facilities in Pocahontas County have been here 10-plus years,” she said. “When they were originally put in, they were provisioned – that means they were capable – the equipment that was placed in the field – it was capable of getting up to one meg [megabits per second] speed.”

Many county customers are limited to one megabit speed or below, insufficient for an increasingly bandwidth-intensive Internet. In March 2010, Frontier was awarded $126 million in federal stimulus funds to build a new fiber-optic backbone across West Virginia, initially to serve schools, libraries, hospitals and fire and police departments. Griffith says work on the backbone is happening in Pocahontas County.

“You may have seen some of the fiber-build that’s going on – the orange cables that have been going in,” she said. “We have been doing a lot of work in the northern part of the county, through contractors. Also, we’ve connected in the southern part of the state. Hillsboro is now connected into Renick, which goes into Lewisburg, which connects us into the Verizon properties that we’re acquired down there.”

The manager says residential customers won’t see the benefits of the new backbone right away.

“Not immediately,” she said. “What this is is – this is the backbone,” she said. “This is like dedicated fiber to get from location to location and get into the state system, especially the schools. What this fiber ring enables us to do is – it enables us to finally have the opportunity to upgrade equipment and the switches, that have been out there for so long. And then, once we can do that, then we can also ride those same fibers.”

Griffith says work on the backbone was delayed.

“The main backbone – we thought it would be in place by now,” she said. “It is a lot longer process than was originally anticipated. Pocahontas County and a couple other areas of the state – the build was very difficult because of the terrain.”

After the backbone is completed, Frontier must install new switches to improve Internet speed in a particular area. Griffith says Frontier hopes to replace all switches in the county within two to three years.

“We are very hopeful that we can start a plan that gets out to all the switches within the next two to three years,” she said. “I know that sounds not fast enough, but we are working to try to do that to get those speeds up, so that we can bring people into an area, where they can download the things they need to.”

Internet speed for residential and business customers will range between 3 to 10 megabits after Frontier installs new switches.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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