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Frontier Communications coping with rise in stolen copper

BY JARETT LEWIS

CHARLESTON — Copper theft is turning into extra of a typical incidence in West Virginia.

In reality, Jason Fields, senior vp of operations with Frontier Communications, stated the state of West Virginia is now the worst state that Frontier operates in concerning stolen copper from their gear. Frontier serves 25 totally different states.

“We’ve seen a 70% improve in West Virginia within the variety of instances our cables had been stolen,” Fields stated.

These numbers are for 2021-2022. From final yr into 2023, there’s been a 13% soar on prime of the 70%, in response to Fields.

Frontier officers met with the state Public Service Fee on Wednesday in Charleston for a common service replace. Frontier informed the PSC about their fiber community set up that’s taking place throughout the complete state, but in addition concerning the rise in copper being stolen.

“It’s nearly to the purpose the place day by day there may be at the very least one cable within the state that’s been stolen,” stated Fields.

Frontier Communications is at present working to put in fiber all throughout the state of West Virginia to fully cowl the state with sooner, extra dependable fiber broadband to extra properties and companies. The corporate is investing $100 million this yr to exchange the outdated system with a brand new fiber optic expertise. The cash and work invested is part of their partnership with the West Virginia Financial Growth’s Workplace of Broadband to deploy fiber to the extra underserved and unserved areas in West
Virginia.

Just some weeks in the past, Frontier was made conscious of a criticism from prospects that they had been with out service for over per week. It was found that a considerable amount of cable was stolen from the realm. When Frontier returned the following day after changing the stolen cable, the brand new cable was additionally taken.

Cell protection is hard in some areas of the state already and with Frontier cables being stolen at a higher fee this yr than in years prior, Fields stated plenty of prospects are affected by the theft.

“The largest impression to a buyer is the lack to name 911,” stated Fields.

In fact, it impacts Frontier too. The theft is taking successful on firm’s timing and prices with putting in the brand new cables.

“We’re constructing fiber throughout the state and as we try this, we have now to pause in that space and take the identical crews which are constructing the brand new community, to go and repair the stolen cable.”

To fight this, Fields stated they’ve employed safety to patrol areas the place they’ve seen repeat occurrences. They’ve additionally positioned AirTags on their cables to trace the placement of them if and when they’re stolen.

The corporate can also be providing a $5,000 reward to those that convey forth details about stolen cables, which then results in an arrest being made. Fields stated they know plenty of their cables have been taken throughout state strains.

Frontier can also be backing laws that addresses the rising copper theft. HB 3006, is predicted to come back up once more earlier than lawmakers that can strengthen the penalties for individuals who steal Frontier cables. Fields is hoping the laws will “cross the end line” throughout the subsequent common session in 2024.

Since 2020, throughout the time of covid, Fields stated they began to see the uptick within the cables and different Frontier gear that was being taken. Ever since then, the circumstances have grown, a lot to his
shock.

“I believed it will decelerate nevertheless it has not slowed down,” stated Fields. “I’m hopeful that the
laws can have some impression.”

Anybody who sees somebody stealing copper is requested to name 1-800-590-6605 or native regulation enforcement.