Ziply Fiber has completed its $1.35 billion acquisition of the Northwest operations of Frontier Communications.
The deal affects customers in the cities surrounding Portland, such as Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, Newberg, Hillsboro and Gresham.
Ziply Fiber CEO Harold Zeitz said the purchase would allow the company to upgrade the copper wire phone and internet network with high-speed fiber optic cable. All 500,000 customers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana became Ziply customers Friday, May 1.
Ziply Fiber is spending $500 million on improving the network and services. The current four-state network passes 1.7 million homes — about 30% of which can get fiber today. Ziply's goal is to bring fiber to more than 80% of them.
Zeitz told the Business Tribune that with the sudden rise in demand for work — and schooling — from home, the deal was easily completed, despite jitters about the economy and the banks' loss of appetite for lending.
"In addition to raising enough money to pay Frontier for the four Northwest states, we're raising almost $2 billion total. So there is half-a-billion dollars available for us to invest. Being able to raise that much money in these times shows there's real support for our local approach to bring fiber to the Northwest."
Zeitz promised faster upload and download speeds as well as improved reliability.
Changes will be seen in the western portion of Washington, the suburbs outside of Seattle and Portland, along the coast of Oregon, Central Oregon, Eastern Washington and into Idaho and Montana.
Ziply's boss promised to "help out the small towns and rural areas that are often left behind by national providers."
Ziply workers will string cable from the telephone poles and pull it underground to hubs. As families sign up for the service where they have not had it before, engineers will bring the fiber to their homes.
The company sees a future in supplying high-speed data connections, which can encompass television, voice and internet, including two-way video conferencing, which is becoming standard in many white-collar workplaces and schools.
"We are offering gig-speed, symmetrical (upload and download) connections for residential and small business. Fiber is the best medium for data," Zeitz said. "It enables incredible capacity. It enables symmetry, upload and download, so when you're having a video conference, and you're sending your image up, you want high capacity and fast speed, as well. Frankly, there's nothing faster than fiber."
"Unlike national providers who have largely ignored some of these areas, we live here, we grew up here," said Zeitz, who lives outside Seattle. "Our passion is around bringing the best internet to our community, our neighbors and our friends."
The new owners will still support DSL, which was a 1990s way of connecting to the internet over copper phone lines, faster than dial-up.
They also are adding redundant routers in 130 locations so that the network doesn't go down.
"We've identified projects in all four states, and we're finalizing which cities and towns we're going to get started in. Many will be slated for small rural towns, often overlooked by national providers when it comes to broadband technology. And while it will take some time to complete, we're starting now because we believe you don't have to live in the big city to enjoy great internet."