Startup to Expand Fiber Network


A newly formed company plans to bring high-speed internet to parts of the Coast and Eastern Oregon.

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Access to broadband is still limited in many parts of Oregon, which restricts these communities’ ability to grow their economies. This could start to improve now that a startup plans to install fiber in areas that still rely on DSL for internet.

Ziply Fiber is a new company formed from Northwest Fiber’s acquisition of Frontier Communications. The $1.35 billion deal, first announced in mid-March, includes the service territory of Frontier in Washington and Oregon.

The combined company will serve 519,000 residential and business locations in Oregon, with the majority of its locations (956,000) based in Washington, where its headquarters will be located in Kirkland. A customer service office will be located in Beaverton.

About 31% of the acquired company’s network consists of copper lines, which provide slower internet through telephone lines. Ziply plans to replace more than 80% of the lines with fiber over the next several years.

Access to broadband has proven to be a necessity for many businesses whose employees are working from home because of the pandemic.

“As more and more people work from home and increase the amount of video conferencing they do, it’s important to have as good of upload speeds as you have download speeds, and that is one of the many benefits fiber provides,” says Ziply over email.

An analysis by BroadbandNow finds that the mass migration of workers telecommuting has slowed down internet speeds across the country.

Rural download speeds – the rate that online data is transferred from your computer to the internet – is down by 3%. Upload speeds – the rate that digital data is transferred from the internet to your computer – has declined by nearly 7%.

The upgraded fiber network will be of particular benefit to customers on the Coast and in Eastern Oregon, where access to broadband is spotty.

On the Coast, Ziply Fiber will take over Frontier’s service territory in Bandon, Coos Bay and Reedsport, among other coastal towns.

In Eastern Oregon, it will serve customers in La Grande and Joseph. Its service territory in the eastern part of the state, where broadband is most restricted, remains limited.

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Ziply Fiber will be a relatively small internet service provider in a sector dominated by large companies such as Comcast. Harold Zeitz, CEO of Ziply Fiber, says the company plans to compete with its larger counterparts on customer service.

It will seek to provide customers with “whatever they want,” says Zeitz, including doing away with traditional long-term contracts and bundled services for residential customers.

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