Frontier Communications is hiring 100 people as they make the push towards getting lightning-speed internet into the homes of as many West Virginians as possible.
According to Jason Fields, interim chief customer operations officer for Frontier, the company is actively recruiting to fill positions, including cable splicers and outside plant technicians, as part of the “Build Gigabit America” campaign, which will see the construction of a fiber-optic network capable of bringing symmetrical 2-gigabit download and upload speeds to much of the nation.
The available 100 full-time term positions are West Virginia based and need to be filled before the end of 2021, Fields stated in an interview with the West Virginia Daily News on Aug. 27.
“At the end of the day, these are full-time positions in West Virginia,” Fields said. “They require somebody to live here and work here. They are not for contractors coming in from out of state, doing work and leaving. These are opportunities for all West Virginians, or for somebody who wants to move here and become a permanent resident.”
Each position will offer new employees competitive pay, benefits and union representation by the Communication Workers of America (CWA), Fields explained. He said that Frontier will provide each new hire with training, uniforms, trucks and tools to ensure their success starting on day one.
However, these jobs are term-limited jobs.
In April 2020, Frontier Communications filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, meaning they would have the chance to restructure debt.
As Frontier emerged from bankruptcy earlier this year, the company had to make an agreement with its debt holders to reduce reliance on the current copper-based network, which, depending on how far a customer lives from the plant, provides internet speeds of anywhere from 6-90 Mbps, and invest in a fiber-optic network, Fields continued. The company plans to reach 10 million homes nationwide by 2025 as part of this new fiber-based strategy.
In West Virginia, the company made an agreement with the West Virginia Public Service Commission to invest $200 million into this state through capital improvements by 2023 and deploy fiber-based broadband to at least 150,000 homes.
“At the end of a project such as this, we may or may not need to keep the employees and we have to make a decision,” Fields said. “It’s just like any type of employment. Along the way, things change and things can happen, but the positions themselves are part of this project.”
Fields did note that Frontier hired 66 term employees throughout West Virginia earlier this year and all of them are now permanent employees.
At this time, Frontier officials are not sure what the future holds for those who accept term positions, but Fields said that through retirement of permanent employees, and the fact that some permanent employees will seek employment elsewhere, there will always be opportunities for term employees to find a permanent position.
“As we build it, we will have to install it, so it depends on how we do as far as billing it and getting customers on board,” Fields said.
Currently, Frontier technicians are building fiber in Charleston, Clarksburg and Beckley as part of the company’s required investment.
Frontier will continue to build the fiber network using money provided by a $247 million grant from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), Fields noted. He said that as the network grows, the company will continue seeking funding sources through other grant programs and subsidies as they become available.
“It’s a very exciting time right now in the grant world,” Fields pointed out.
Once the new fiber-optic network is built, Fields said that it will make Frontier competitive against other companies in terms of providing high-speed internet.
“This network is fiber all the way to the home,” Fields explained. “Frontier has a unique position in West Virginia because we are across the entire state. It’s not 100 percent, but just about every area in West Virginia has a Frontier telephone pole or underground services. So, that gives us the ability to run fiber all the way across our infrastructure.”
Once installed, Frontier’s first-tier customer offering will include download and upload speeds of 500 Mbps for $49.99, Fields stated. The next tier package will include download and upload speeds of 1 gig for $79.99.
Eventually, Fields said the company will be able to provide speeds of 2 gigs both up and down.
“This network is being built for the future,” Fields said. “We are moving very aggressively. You are going to see it really explode . . . That’s why we need these 100 technicians. We need help. We have been trying to staff these positions for a couple of months and we are anxious to get more people here and get them trained so we can build faster.”
Technicians will be based out of Clarksburg, Charleston, Bluefield, Buckhannon, Huntington, Martinsburg, Parkersburg and Wheeling, Fields said. But, technicians will be covering a vast area, including the rural areas of the state.
All open positions can be found on Frontier’s website at https://jobs.jobvite.com/careers/frontier/job.
“It’s a great job,” said Fields, a native of Sissonville. “I have been here 24 years . . . We are a great family of people.”
“Now is just an absolutely exciting time to work for a company like Frontier,” Fields added. “If I look at it personally . . . it’s a great job in West Virginia. I could just go on and on about the people who work for me . . . it’s a very well-paid job with great benefits and a future.”
Fields offered a little inside advice on getting a job with Frontier for those who are worried that they may not have the experience needed for open positions.
He said he looks for people who show they are hard-working and willing to “get their hands dirty.” He is also looking for those who don’t mind working in all weather conditions and are excited to jump aboard the Frontier vision of growing “Gigabit America.”