Frontier adding jobs, faster service

August 29th, 2014

News Coverage:

Frontier adding jobs, faster service

Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 11:00 pm

By Doug LeDuc

The quality of Frontier Communications’ Fort Wayne work force left such an impression on one of its executives three years ago, the company decided to grow its operations in the Summit City.

The latest expansion will increase the size of company’s local work force to about 1,300 from about 1,150 by adding employees to its data and call centers, at 6430 Oakbrook Parkway and 8001 W. Jefferson Blvd., respectively.

Call center employees could be signing up customers for a product it will start rolling out on Sept. 7, which will come close to tripling the maximum download speed of its FiOS broadband, increasing it to 100 megabits per second.

“By the new year, all of Fort Wayne will have this new service available to them,” said Cecilia McKenney, Frontier’s executive vice president for human resources and administrative services. “This is a story about Frontier continuing to progress and embrace (advances in technology) as broadband demand continues to explode.”

McKenney, whose impression several years ago affected the decision to expand in Fort Wayne, was in town Aug. 19 and 20 to welcome 60 new employees, talk with managers about the new product rollout and meet with community leaders to learn how to best address the area’s telecommunications needs.

FiOS is carried over fiber-optic lines, which run all the way to a subscriber’s residence. It was launched locally by Verizon Communications in 2005, and is available to 48,000 homes in Fort Wayne, New Haven and Huntertown.

Frontier added all of the former Verizon customers of Indiana, Michigan and a dozen other states to its business on July 1, 2010.

Since then, the company has invested more than a quarter of a billion dollars in telecommunications infrastructure in Indiana and extended digital subscriber line broadband to all northeast Indiana communities.

Part of the investment involving equipment installation at the Oakbrook facility, which enabled Fort Wayne to start serving as the headend for all Frontier video services last year. Bringing the previously outsourced operations in-house created some jobs.

A second set of two huge satellite dishes recently was constructed at the main facility on Jefferson Boulevard to receive and process the video signals distributed as Frontier’s FiOS subscription television service.

With FiOS broadband, few customers were subscribed to a service level of 50 Mbps when Frontier bought the Verizon business. Dan Sullivan, general manager for Frontier’s local market, said it stopped adding customers at the 50 level, keeping only the legacy customers.

Currently, “the bulk of our customers are on 15 Mbps, but have an opportunity to go to 25 and 35,” he said. The 15 Mbps service level is $19.99 monthly as part of a broadband/subscription television service bundle of $79.99. There also are other bundle deals. Purchased separately, the 15 Mbps service is $29.99.

Fort Wayne will be the first Frontier market to receive the 100 Mbps service level, and McKenney said it had not yet been priced. The 100 Mbps level is tied with the fastest broadband available through Comcast and substantially faster than the fastest service level now available through Charter Communications, which could be managing the business Comcast plans to spin off in northeast Indiana.

Philadelphia-based Comcast announced the spinoff plans in April as part of a deal it struck to sell a portion of its business, including 1.4 million of the cable TV subscribers it is expecting from Time Warner Communications, to Stamford, Conn.-based Charter.

The deal also provides for Charter to receive a 33-percent stake in a business Comcast will spin off as a public company, which Charter will run, with 2.5 million customers. That customer base will include Comcast’s business in Fort Wayne and for now, parties to the deal are calling the business SpinCo.

A Federal Communications review of a license transfer required for the deal is scheduled to conclude in mid-January, making the timing of Frontier’s new product roll-out in the Fort Wayne area “fabulous for consumers,” McKenney said, because, if the deal is approved, Comcast management “is going to pull out of the market.”

When Charter starts running the Fort Wayne area SpinCo business, “consumers who are currently customers of Comcast will have to make a decision,” she said.

“I feel we’re offering them a very competitive and compelling alternative,” she said.

In a second, separate win for Fort Wayne, Frontier’s local data center is expanding as information technology work that supports the company’s operations across the country is relocated from Rochester, N.Y.

Hiring for the call center and data center expansions began during the second quarter and will continue into the first quarter of next year. When Frontier grows its work force, it makes a special effort to see that at least 13 percent of its new hires are veterans or are from military families, McKenney said.. Veterans are 11 percent of the company’s work force, and it has hiring policies in place to maintain that level, she said. Many of the veterans who have come home after sacrificing for their country on foreign battlefields have discovered “finding a job is very daunting.” As such, she encourages veterans and military families to apply for the job openings.