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Allegheny Energy arm joins fiber optics group

March 24, 2000|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Allegheny Communications Connect, an unregulated subsidiary of Hagerstown-based Allegheny Energy, announced Tuesday it has joined with five other companies to create a new "super-regional" high-speed fiber optics company.

The new company, America's Fiber Network LLC, will join a portion of the fiber optic network Allegheny Communications Connect has built with other regional networks to create a much larger, integrated network aimed at serving underserved markets, according to Allegheny Communications Connect Vice President John Flinko.

With more than 7,000 miles of fiber optic cable, the network will stretch from New York City west to Chicago and from Rochester, N.Y., to Johnson City, Tenn., Flinko said.

The company's focus is connecting major-market cities, like Baltimore and Washington, with secondary market cities to help break down the "digital divide," or disparity in broadband access between larger population areas and those less populated, he said.

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"We're going to bridge that gap," he said.

The company plans to quickly expand the network to more than 10,000 miles by the end of the year, Flinko said.

The plan includes adding new partners with existing fiber "assets" with an eye toward networks adjacent to the secondary markets it already serves, he said.

The company will bring fiber optic access to areas that don't have it now and to areas where there is access but no choice, Flinko said.

The company will serve as a "carrier's carrier," wholesaling telecommunications capacity to Internet service providers, local and long-distance telephone companies and wireless communications companies.

Tying together the various regional networks benefits all of the partner companies, Flinko said.

"All the assets combined are worth more than the entities piecemeal," he said.

Fellow partners in the company are AEP Communications, GPU Telcom Services, FirstEnergy Telecom, CFW Communications and R&B Communications.

America's Fiber Network is based temporarily in Columbus, Ohio. The company is searching for a chief executive officer and will decide where its permanent offices will be based on that selection, Flinko said.

Last week, Allegheny Communications Connect announced its partnership in a consortium selected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to build an advanced information technology infrastructure in the state and to provide state government with voice, video, Internet and data telecommunications services.

As part of the initiative, Allegheny Communications Connect will build about 400 miles of high-capacity fiber optic lines in central and western Pennsylvania.

While not linked, the two enterprises reflect the same company goal, Flinko said.

"Both ventures are part of a continuing growth strategy to get as deep into communities as possible," he said.

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