Frontier Communications Engineer Grilled About Broadband At NRAO

Green Bank, WV – Reed Nelson, Director of Engineering for Frontier Communications, gave a presentation at the NRAO last week about Frontier’s plans for broadband upgrades in West Virginia. After the presentation, he was grilled by audience members.

Chris Clark, head of the Computing Division at the NRAO, questions whether upgrades promised for later this month will be sufficient to meet demand.

“You mention that there’ll be a doubling of capacity soon with the potential of another doubling soon after that” says Clark. “All the figures I’m getting to reach the bandwidth I’m paying for at home, you need to quadruple [capacity] for peak times immediately.”

Pocahontas County Commission President David Fleming agrees with Clarks assessment. He also wants to know about customer pricing, given that Frontier has very little competition in the state. Nelson says they appreciate the need to keep the costs reasonable for customers, but also have to take into account connectivity beyond the state borders.

“What we’re trying to grapple is huge cost for a company; and not just us, but everybody; I’m passing that bandwidth out and sending it across the country once it hits the major backbone” he says. “We’ve got some areas within the state that one customer was using as much as whole communities; he was just downloading videos constantly and that was killing everybody else’s service. So all those things are taken into account.”

Allen Johnson wants to know just how far out the broadband service will extend in rural area like this. Nelson says it depends on distance and existing equipment.

“For any of our major central offices, each one of those will have access to either to a [ROADM] node or adjacent to one where that capacity can quickly be transferred onto that node” says Nelson. “The only place you will have issues will be if you get up a hollow and it’s only copper cable, those areas might still have some constraint getting the services back. What we’re trying to do as well is get as many of those on fiber as we can.”

NRAO Business Manager Mike Holstine asks how Frontier is going to handle spectrum demand for such things as high definition television. Nelson says the planned upgrades are not intended to carry the HDTV signal.

“When I had mentioned the 40 to 50Mbps out there it is not intended to be streaming HDTV across that stream” says Nelson. “What we’re doing instead, we’re partnering with Dish [Network] for the bulk of what we’re going to do, so it’s not going to be on our network for that service. There’s really not an intent at this point to try to drive that kind of bandwidth across a DSL network.”

Green Bank School Principal Ruth Bland is worried about county kids who may not have access to internet service in an increasingly digital learning environment. Nelson agrees it’s a problem they need to address.

“Personally, we used to have a concept of universal service for telephones” he says. “And there was subsidies for low income families, etc. I fully expect this situation that you’re talking about is going to evolve into that same kind of scenario. As we’re pushing as a country to get to that level with that type of coverage, you’re going to have a lot of grants or whatever would be available to have it apply towards it. Yet, I’m sure that’s still being worked out for those situations.”

If you have further questions about Frontier’s future plans, you can contact Reta Griffith, General Manager for Frontier Communications, at 304-799-3994 or

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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