By Bob Weaver

While WV is nearly last in access to high-speed broadband, Frontier, WV's largest telecommunications provider says it's taking the next step for faster broadband service in the Mountain State.

Frontier Communications announced plans last week to make available faster broadband technology to its 405,000 customers.

Frontier general manager Dana Waldo said households and business customers may have the opportunity to have up to 25 megabits per second through what the company is calling its Broadband Ultra and Ultimate services. Waldo says business customers could get up to 40 megabits service.

While the press release implied the upgrades will be available to all Frontier customers, they may not be available to many rural areas.

Regarding enhancements in Calhoun, Dan Page, Frontier's communication director said, "We are developing our plans for broadband speed enhancements in the future. We do not have a specific timeline at the moment, but speed enhancements are part of our long-range plan in Calhoun County."

"Frontier is deploying 35 miles of fiber today in Calhoun County, which will provide increased speeds to local schools and other public facilities," said Page.

Frontier's manager Waldo says since Frontier purchased Verizon's landlines two years ago the company has invested $237 million to improve expand broadband.

"Like downloading a movie or using the Internet for business purposes from the home," Waldo said. "It's those capabilities that the higher speeds will provide that experience."

Waldo calls the announcement a "game changer" for West Virginia.

"We are the largest telecommunications provider in the state and bringing these types of services really will have a significant impact on not only residential but businesses capabilities in the state," Waldo said.

The announcement is separate from the Internet expansion work Frontier is doing under an agreement with the state.

"Frontier is building on its existing infrastructure to provide broadband service in rural areas of West Virginia. Higher speeds are available to customers within a specific distance of Frontier facilities that are equipped to support higher speeds. By the end of the year, more than 405,000 households across West Virginia will have access to those higher speeds," says a press release.

"For example, higher speeds are available in some areas of Clay, Braxton and Roane counties and most of Gilmer County. Some areas of Wirt and Ritchie counties also will see higher speeds," said Page.

Page said Frontier will continue to develop its network in other rural areas in the future and provide higher speeds in those markets.

After a call by the Hur Herald to obtain "Ultra" or "Ultimate" broadband service, the service representative advised it was not available in the area.

Despite years of political pronouncements, initiatives and expansion programs, West Virginia is still ranking last in the nation with high-speed Internet, according to a new FCC report.

About 845,000 West Virginians, 46 percent of state residents, don't have access to broadband Internet service, the Federal Communications Commission said this week.

Frontier Communications says the FCC is using outdated data to reach their conclusions.

A further issue is the lack of standards of what is real broadband service.

The FCC report shows that even West Virginians with broadband have Internet speeds far slower than most states.

The problem is a significant issue for business development, unable to upload and download data that is required.

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