Through the state-of-the-art networks, the company can offer a range of options including local telephone service, high-speed Internet access and hookup to long distance carriers, Allegheny Power Vice President Richard Gagliardi said.
The company will initially target a specific area of western Pennsylvania with a high concentration of users, Gagliardi said.
It will cost an estimated $5 to $10 million to set up a network in that area, he said.
With its pilot utilities deregulation program, Pennsylvania is a good place to introduce telecommunication services because they can be offered together, or "bundled," with electricity and other Allegheny Power products to give the company a competitive advantage, Gagliardi said.
"This is one of the things we can have when we go to the customer that we can offer as a package," he said.
Allegheny Power currently provides electricity to 1.4 million customers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Virginia.
A subsidiary of Adelphia Communications Corporation, Hyperion Telecommunications now operates 18 telecommunications networks throughout the country.
"The idea is to work with Hyperion over the next number of years to expand this over our territory," Gagliardi said.
Because of the high cost of the fiber optic networks, the company will need signed contracts with high-volume business users in an area before building a new network there, he said.
It's possible Washington County residents could get both their electric and telephone service from Allegheny Power in the future, Gagliardi said.
The Hagerstown area has three high-usage businesses - Citicorp Credit Services Inc., First Data Merchant Services and Allegheny Power - that together could support building a network that other business and residential customers could take advantage of, he said.