Story by Walt Williams
State regulators have approved what will be the largest telecommunications deal in West Virginia history, although the unions that oppose it are still weighing their options for stopping the transaction.
The West Virginia Public Service Commission approved by a 2-1 vote the acquisition of Verizon’s landlines by Frontier Communications May 13. The proposed transaction encompasses 14 states, although the companies needed permission from nine states, including West Virginia.
The PSC conditions for approval of the deal include:
•Frontier must honor all existing obligations of Verizon following the close of the sale, including the currently effective retail quality service plan approved by the Commission to continue through at least July 2, 2011.
•Frontier must make additional capital investments of at least $48 million to increase broadband deployment and subscription in the Verizon service territory.
•Frontier must expand broadband availability in Verizon service areas so that by no later than the end of the fourth year following the close of the sale, access to broadband service will be available to no less than 85 percent of the households within Verizon service areas.
•Frontier must locate its southeast regional headquarters in Charleston after closing the sale.
•Charleston will be Frontier’s southeastern regional headquarters, and will be a major employment center for Frontier in the region. It will be the hub for engineering, technical, operation and executive personnel for Frontier’s operations in West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
•Frontier must adopt all of Verizon’s tariffs, price lists and contracts, including long distance, under the same terms and conditions at closing.
•Frontier must cap all regulated rates subject to jurisdiction of the Commission for one year after close of the transaction.
•Frontier must provide E-911 functionality provided by Verizon prior to close.
•Frontier must waive early termination fees for current Verizon customers participating in a Verizon bundled service package for the first 90 days after closing
Communication Workers of America officials say they may ask the state's Public Service Commission to reconsider its Verizon-Frontier decision.
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