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Frontier cries foul over tax funding for competitor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Over strong objections from Frontier Communications, a West Virginia state board plans to spend $690,000 to put fiber-optic cable in Randolph and Pocahontas counties, even though the project would duplicate an existing network owned by Frontier.

On Wednesday, the West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council voted 3-2 to award the money to West Virginia Network, or WVNET, a state agency that provides Internet service to schools, universities and other public facilities. WVNET would own the three-segment fiber network that would connect Snowshoe to Cass, Valley Head to Mill Creek, and Durbin to Green Bank.

Frontier already has high-speed fiber lines that connect those communities.

“To use taxpayer money to overbuild existing facilities is not appropriate, particularly in a state that has budget issues,” said Dana Waldo, who oversees Frontier’s West Virginia operations and sits on the Broadband Deployment Council. “What the outcome would be is to build fiber where existing fiber is already in place.”

However, council member Jim Martin said Frontier’s fiber isn’t “open access” — available free of charge to competing Internet providers, such as Martin’s company, Citynet…

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