Frontier CEOCitizens Communications CEO Maggie Wilderotter discusses Frontier in Statesboro.
Much has been made about our country's obsession with celebrity. Call me jaded, but unlike many of my fellow citizens, I really could care less about famous people for the most part. However, I have to be honest and admit that a year ago, the resume of someone I contacted for an interview caught my eye and frankly fascinated me.
That person was Maggie Wilderotter, chairman and CEO of Citizens Communi- cations Company (NYSE: CZN) which owns Frontier Com-munications, Statesboro's telephone service provider.
Wilderotter has become somewhat of a corporate celebrity appearing as recently as last week on the Today Show with her three sisters who are also very accomplished corporate executives in their own right.
Why bring this up? Because, Wilderotter was in Statesboro this past Thursday and Friday. She came to tour the local Frontier operation and to announce new products and services that Frontier would be offering to its customers in the near future.
Thursday night, in addition to addressing local business leaders and government officials, Wilderotter sat with the press for 20 minutes in a very candid and open interview session. Some of what she said might surprise you.
"We are the second largest rural telephone company in the United States and our 'sweet spots' are markets like Statesboro," she said. "We firmly believe that our customers in these markets deserve the same level of capability that customers have in large metropolitan markets like New York, Chicago, and Dallas, so we have invested heavily in these markets to deliver broad band access, wireless services, better voice services and better video through our partnership with the Dish Network."
"We also know in our markets that our customers are not technophiles, and they want things simple, easy, and value added for their lives and their office," Wilderotter said. "In several of our markets, 40 percent of our customer base does not own a personal computer. However, Statesboro is different."
"This is a very tech savvy market, because of the university," she said. "The average penetration for high speed broad band access in our markets is around 24%. In Statesboro, it is 61%. Because of that, this is one of those areas where you can introduce those products that are more technically oriented because it is a savvier environment from a broad band usage perspective."
What are some of the new products that Frontier is bringing to this tech savvy market? Enter, Frontier1 Wireless Companion which integrates the home phone line with the cell phone.
"Research has shown that 40 percent of all cell phone calls occur within five feet of a land line service," Wilderotter said. "We have developed a new product called Frontier1 where you have one number, which could be your home or cell number, that rings simultaneously on both. Within that service is a very simple way to jump calls from your cell phone to your land line by just pressing *H. You can continue your cell phone call on your land line, and you won't be using up your cell minutes."
"It also works in the opposite direction," she said. "Leave your house and transfer your home call to your cell phone by pressing *C."
That was just one of the new applications that Wilderotter touched on. What was made clear during the interview is that the pace of technology does not allow a communications company to "stand still." Rest assured, the ceo of Citizens Communications is going to make sure her company doesn't.
That was good news to me. I like all of the bells and whistles. So go ahead and bring on your WiFi network and seamless communication capabilities. The 'Boro is ready for a technology rush.
And for those of you who think Frontier's monthly billing statement is too cumbersome and complicated, Wilderotter said the following. "I also think our billing statement is hard to read and understand. We are revamping it, and by this summer our customers will receive a new and simpler statement each month. We want things to be reliable, predictable, and simple to use and understand."
Until next week (or tonight if you are a blogger), I bid you au revoir.
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