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Business News – Power Companies Form New Carrier; Look for a CEO and Other Pros

Posted: 05/2000

Business News

Power Companies Form New Carrier;
Look for a CEO and Other Pros
By Ken Branson

Take 4,200 route miles of optical fiber, two small telecom companies and six power companies, and what do you have?

According to those companies, you have the makings of a regional carriers’ carrier. What’s missing? A CEO, a staff, a network operations center and a headquarters. All in good time, say the backers of America’s Fiber Network LLC
(www.americasfibernetwork.com), all in good time.

By the end of this year, AFN expects–or, shall we say, its backers expect–to have 7,000 route miles of fiber in the ground, a NOC and a CEO.

“This is not a utility entity,” says David
Brauer, vice president-strategic initiatives at GPU Inc. (www.gpu.com).
“This will be formed and run as an independent entity. I will say that it’s new in the sense that we are focused on a market with a lack of focus–Tier 2 and 3 [cities]. A lot of the larger carriers are focused on Tier 1. We’re providing linkage from Tier 1 to Tier 2 and 3.”

Brauer says AFN already has customers, and 60 percent of its 7,000-mile network is operational. He says it has real wholesale customers, too. But pressed on this, Brauer concedes that AFN’s backers have the customers, the fiber and the individual plans to complete their individual networks.

“Seven thousand route miles is what we expect to have totally built and operational by the end of 2000,” Brauer says. “The real goal is 10,000 miles through additional growth. Each of us has always contributed routes, capacity contracts and equipment,

and customers.”

The backers are GPU; AEP Communications Inc., wholly owned subsidiary of American Electric Power Inc.
(www.aep.com); Allegheny Communications Connect Inc., subsidiary of Allegheny Power
(www.alleghenypower.com); FirstEnergy Telecom Corp., subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp.
(www.firstenergycorp.com); CFW Communications Co.
(www.cfw.com); and R&B Communications Inc.
(www.rbnet.com). GPU, AEP and Allegheny control 90 percent of the new enterprise among them.

CFW and R&B are CLECs based in rural Virginia–CFW in Waynesboro, Va., and R&B in Daleville, Va. Their service areas are centrally located where their power company partners do business, representing the kind of area those partners want to link.

For now, AFN’s staff consists of three full-time employees, seconded from AEP and based in Columbus, Ohio. AFN’s hunt for a CEO continues.

“We’re looking for someone who’s seasoned in the telecom business, someone with an established track record of growing a business, growing revenues, and interacting with customers and finance community,” Brauer says.


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