Frontier plans DSL upgrades in Pocahontas County
On July 9, Frontier Communications CEO Maggie Wilderotter said, "We're going to spend millions to bring high-speed internet to neighborhoods that don't have it and increase speeds for those who already have it."
Local Frontier manager John Mutscheller said the company plans to keep that promise in Pocahontas County by upgrading DSL speed to residential customers and providing superfast internet service to schools and hospitals.
"Here in Pocahontas County, we're always working on expanding our internet," he said. "So far this year, I've doubled my capacity in Beaver Creek. I've added a new site to Luster Shrader Road and I added 13 miles of fiber, which is going to enable me to add a new site in Thornwood, and that's going to be my first five meg (five Mbs) site."
The manager said a person's internet speed is dependent on the speed of their local remote carrier unit, or RCU. The manager said most of the RCUs in the county currently operate at one Mbs, but eventually would be upgraded to five Mbs.
"Most of them are still at one meg, several are at three, and we are putting our first up to five megs at Thornwood," he said.
Mutscheller said the upgrades would occur once an area had reached its current capacity.
"A lot of what we have is still at one Mbs," he said. "We have several offices at three megs. What we're going to do, as those offices get full - where our capacity is to the point that we have to upgrade - instead of just upgrading the ports or the number of available customers we serve, we're going to take that site to five megs.
"In the near future, all I have committed right now is the new site at Thornwood, and then the rest is just depending on how sales go and how many additions we have."
Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Telephone, Inc. announced plans this month to provide fiber to the home (FTTH) service in the northern part of the county, as far south as Cass. Verizon offers FTTH service in neighboring states, with speeds and prices ranging from 15 Mbs for $50 a month, to 50 Mbs for $140 a month.
Mutscheller said he was unaware of any Frontier plans to provide FTTH in Pocahontas County, but said DSL service had seen major technological improvements.
"Fiber is definitely the high end, but we can do a whole lot more with copper and the internet than we could originally," he said. "I've got a business right now with 15 meg service. We're doing 15 meg service, over copper."
Frontier is slated to receive nearly $40 million from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to expand broadband internet service in West Virginia.
Mutscheller said he expected some of those funds to be used in Pocahontas County.
"The stimulus, from what I understand, will be used for fiber to schools, hospitals, 911, fire departments and libraries and that's supposed to be statewide, so we will fall under that," he said.
The manager said Frontier would continue to employ local people and support local projects.
"County-wide, I directly employ eight people and indirectly employ another three," he said. "We've obviously been here in the community. I don't know how many flags and banners I've put up. I helped with the flagpole at the county museum. These are the things Frontier does. We moved the oldest house in Marlinton. We donate money. This past year, we gave over $40,000 to Pocahontas County improvement projects. I hope people remember how important it is to support your local company."