Pending Verizon sale in West Virginia would set back broadband deployment

Verizon Communications is proposing to sell landlines in 14 states to Frontier Comunication Corp. - a move that has raised concerns from the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). The sale could be a setback to the push for expanded broadband access in West Virginia.

Recently, the Dominion Post (Morgantown, WV) reported a story, which shows the far-reaching benefits of broadband access. A teenage girl, who had lived her whole life with an undiagnosed disease, was finally diagnosed by a doctor who examined her using West Virginia University's Mountaineer Doctor Television. MDTV is a system, powered by broadband Internet, by which doctors and patients can interact from remote locations. After 16 years, Gabrielle Ramirez can begin treatment for the neurological disorder, Charcot-Marie-Tooth, which causes uncontrollable muscle spasms.

Ramirez's case is one example of the many ways that broadband access improves life and is beneficial beyond email and web surfing.

But, the pending sale could delay the expansion of truly high-speed broadband access. If Frontier buys the landlines, they will assume $3.3 billion dollars in debt, which could paralyze the expansion movement for an unknown time period. Furthermore, Frontier does not offer fiber-to-the-home service which Verizon is building in many communities where it provides local service.

As IBEW and CWA work to diminish the digital divide, they are reviewing the provisions in the sale and will raise concerns. We will keep you posted on Speed Matters.

Stay tuned as the details of the sale unfold.

Verizon sale raises concerns for workers, rural communities (CWA)

Broadband growth gets support from state government: high-speed Internet means more than just surfing web (TMCNet viaThe Dominion Post)

Sign up for blog update emails (Speed Matters)