Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Changes on the line for phone services

Alltel acquires U.S. Cellular

Express Staff Writer

Cox Communications technical specialists Kendon Morgan, foreground, and Bob Lewis work last week to get an Elkhorn neighborhood connected with new fiber optics. "We're on line," Morgan said before the team moved on to get other systems up and running. Photo by Willy Cook

By fall, Wood River Valley residents and businesses will have two options for local landlocked telephone service.

"We will be offering phone service over our state-of-the-art facilities, starting this summer, in a phased approach," said Guy Cherp, general manager for Cox Communications. "The service area will be the Wood River Valley, to all of the valley's residents. We will begin offering it to businesses by the first quarter."

Cox uses a hybrid fiber co-axial network.

"It's a very fiber-optic-rich network," Cherp said. "The last mile to residences and some businesses use a co-ax cable. That's why it's called a hybrid fiber co-ax, or HFC network."

Cox's phone service will be 911 compliant, Cherp noted, with enhanced-911 compliance when the county enacts that emergency-response service.

Work is wrapping up on upgrades to Cox's network, which supplies Internet and cable TV service to Wood River Valley customers.

"We are telephone operators in many other markets, so bringing phone service to this market is only natural for us," Cherp said. "We recognized long ago there was opportunity for us to provide ... additional value to our customers."

Qwest is presently the only provider of local phone service in the area. Qwest representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

Change is afoot for wireless customers, too.

Little Rock, Ark.-based Alltel Wireless acquired in late 2005 U.S. Cellular's assets in southern and eastern Idaho.

Wood River Valley cell phone customers who used to have U.S. Cellular are now on the Alltel wireless network.

Alltel is the fifth largest wireless service provider in the United States.

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