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FiberNet may be seeking a buyer: ; State's second-largest phone company is reportedly for sale right on heels of Verizon deal [Charleston Daily Mail (WV)]
[June 24, 2010]

FiberNet may be seeking a buyer: ; State's second-largest phone company is reportedly for sale right on heels of Verizon deal [Charleston Daily Mail (WV)]

(Charleston Daily Mail (WV) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Just as Verizon, the largest telecommunications provider in the state, sells its West Virginia landlines to Frontier Communications, FiberNet - the second largest phone company in the state - is reportedly being shopped around.

Frontier expects to close on the acquisition of Verizon's landline networks in West Virginia and 13 other states on July 1. It's the biggest telecommunications deal in West Virginia's history.

Meanwhile, FiberNet is for sale, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The sale of the two largest telecommunications providers in the state at approximately the same time would not only be unprecedented, but it also could raise concerns that complications could arise.

Byron Harris, who heads the state Public Service Commission's Consumer Advocate Division, said, "The first thing that occurs to me is, it depends on what the new owners do for both companies. At some point, any business relationship comes down to the people involved.

"So FiberNet needs to have a relationship with what is now Verizon in order to complete its calls. When it has problems, there are people who presumably have been working with each other to resolve those problems for years.

"If Frontier moves people around on the Verizon side or if the new buyer of FiberNet moves people around on that side, you have the potential for miscommunications." David Armentrout, FiberNet's president and chief operating officer, referred all questions to the company's corporate parent, One Communications Corp.

One Communications spokeswoman Patti Leahy said as a matter of policy the company doesn't comment on scuttlebutt. "I can't comment one way or another today," she said.

Sources familiar with the matter said FiberNet employees were told of the possible sale of the company several months ago. Several potential buyers have visited FiberNet's offices, the sources said.

FiberNet was formed in 1997. It started as an affiliate of Fanch Communications Inc., formerly the largest cable television system operator in the state.

FiberNet became a unit of One Communications in 2006 when CTC Communications and Choice One Communications, who were in the process of merging, announced they were buying Conversent Communications Inc., which was then FiberNet's corporate parent. That deal was completed on July 3, 2006.

FiberNet has invested $100 million in the state over the last 13 years and now has about 3,300 route miles of fiber and 100,000 customer lines, mostly serving business customers. The company has 240 employees.

One Communications has corporate headquarters in Burlington, Mass., and operational headquarters in Rochester, N.Y. The company advertises that it is the largest privately held, multi-regional integrated telecommunications provider in the United States, serving small and mid-sized business customers in 18 states and the District of Columbia.

Contact writer George Hohmann at [email protected] or 304- 348-4836.

(c) 2010 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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