EVERETT — Harold Zeitz’s wife works at home these days, teaching fourth-graders online.
As of Friday, Zeitz is at the helm of Ziply Fiber, a new Kirkland-based telecommunications company that provides internet, phone and television services to a half-million customers in four states, including teachers who rely on home internet to keep kids online and in line.
Ziply, a subsidiary of WaveDivision, a Kirkland-based private investment company, begins operating Friday, taking over the Frontier Communications footprint in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
WaveDivision acquired Frontier’s Northwest division through a year-long, $1.35 billion acquisition that closed Thursday.
Zeitz will have at least one tough customer on the home front — his wife, Suzanne. The family lives in one of Frontier’s former coverage areas. She will be a Ziply customer from day one.
Nearly 500,000 former Frontier residential and business customers, including 156,000 subscribers in Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties and in eastern portions of Washington, will now be served by Ziply Fiber.
Rates will remain the same, Zeitz said.
“The brand name on the bill will change, but no one’s rate is changing as part of this transaction,” he said.
The billion-dollar deal was set in motion almost a year ago when WaveDivision, which invests in telecoms around the U.S. and Canada, announced plans to buy Connecticut-based Frontier’s Northwest operations.
The deal required approvals by federal, state and local regulators. Ziply will be the only telecom that WaveDivision operates.
Frontier was one of the largest local telephone companies in the state and also provided TV and internet connectivity. Its distinctive Western Washington headquarters was in Everett at 1800 41st St.
“Our largest employee location will be in Everett and will remain there,” Zeitz said.
Ziply has retained 960 former Frontier employees and plans to hire another 200 throughout the network.
The company plans to invest at least $50 million to increase broadband coverage in the state and support an initiative to provide wider enhanced 911 services, according to an agreement filed with the state Utilities and Transportation Commission earlier this year.
The new telecom plans to invest $500 million, including in some rural area and small towns.
“Our current network passes about 1.7 million homes, about 30% of which can get fiber today, which delivers the fastest speeds,” Zeitz said. “Our goal is to bring fiber to over 80% of them.”
The company made some pre-investment changes in the network. As a result, Zeitz said, customers should notice faster download speeds beginning this month.
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods
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