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Frontier staff gets pep talk

CEO praises transition, gains as board meets in city

Wilderotter

Criticism that Frontier Communications Corp. wouldn’t be able to handle Verizon’s territory “is so yesterday,” its CEO says.

In fact, Maggie Wilderotter is in town this week to praise employees for a job well done and preside over a board of directors meeting that began Tuesday and concludes today.

The Stamford, Conn.-based media services company counts Fort Wayne as pivotal to its success – so much so that this month, Frontier announced a restructuring that made Fort Wayne its central region headquarters. Besides Indiana, the region comprises Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Frontier has 180 markets in 27 states. Its board of directors meets at various locations twice a year.

“We do this so that they can become familiar with the areas we serve,” Wilderotter said. “It’s a chance for them to get to know the community.”

The board meeting is being held at Frontier’s regional hub, 8001 W. Jefferson Blvd., but officials found time to break bread with Gov. Mike Pence during a dinner at the Fort Wayne Country Club on Tuesday.

Frontier has invested about $180 million in infrastructure improvements in Indiana since acquiring landline phone, Internet and cable business in 14 states, including Indiana, from Verizon Communications Inc. in an $8.6 billion deal three years ago.

Fort Wayne is Frontier’s second-largest market. The company has 1,150 employees in the Summit City and 1,800 throughout the state. Comcast Corp., however, continues to be the nation’s leading media services provider. The Philadelphia-based company recorded about $63 billion in revenue last year, compared with Frontier’s $5 billion.

Wilderotter isn’t intimidated, though. She said her company continues to fare well against its much larger rival. The companies are required to pay the city 5 percent of either gross annual subscriber receipts or the franchisee’s gross annual receipts, whichever is higher.

Cable providers rarely reveal customer counts, but franchise fees are a way to measure market share. Comcast paid nearly $2 million in fees last year, and Frontier fees neared $1 million. Not too shabby considering Comcast’s size, officials say.

Although Verizon Communications Inc. left the market in 2010, there are some remnants that Wilderotter would like to see gone. Frontier has its own customer concerns to contend with, and being blamed for Verizon issues by former customers shouldn’t be one of them, she said.

“We changed the name on the door, but some people still associate us with them,” Wilderotter said. “We have to continue to (educate) customers about who we are.”

pwyche@jg.net

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