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WVT communications reaches 100th year milestone.

In January, WVT Communications, formerly Warwick Valley Telephone, in Warwick, N.Y., will mark its 100th year anniversary of providing quality, cutting-edge telecommunications services. While a lot has changed since WVT Communications introduced the original rotary phone to its customers, the company's commitment to offering the most innovative telecommunications technology and personalized customer service remains constant.

"WVT's service area has morphed from a traditional farm area to a bedroom community" said Jean Beattie, WVT marketing manager. "Our customer base runs the gamut from long-timers who purchased their original rotary phone, to telecommuters who want to download mega files before Mr. Coffee finishes brewing."

Along WVT's century-long journey, the company has evolved into a residential and business telecommunications provider for the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania tri-state region. The company has more than 20,000 customers in its service area and seven exchanges. WVT Communications offers: incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) and competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) local and long-distance services, two phone stores, dial-up and digital subscriber line (DSL), Internet access, business systems, cellular, paging and broadband access.

"Our customers demand hi-tech services," said M. Lynn Pike, president of WVT Communications. "They had them before they moved here, they have them at work, their kids know about them, and their neighbor has them."

Because a large percentage of its customer base telecommutes to the northern New Jersey and Manhattan areas, WVT faces a high demand for Internet access lines. The company has several new applications in the development phase that will require broadband in homes and offices. In fact, the company has begun upgrading its entire network to provide very high-speed digital subscriber line (VDSL) to meet this growing demand. This upgrade will allow WVT to enter the digital video arena and provide customers with voice, video and data over one copper pair. WVT intends to launch its video product, which will compete with the incumbent cable services, by the end of second quarter 2002.

Beattie estimates that approximately two-thirds of WVT's dial-up customers are in ILEC territory. The company expanded its Internet service provider coverage early on to provide local access where it was unavailable previously. For other small telcos moving into a larger incumbent's territory, Christoper J. Carey, director of network planning, offered some advise.

"Adopt an 'edge out' strategy that allows your existing network to move into the ILEC's territory," he said. "We have, where possible, double-lashed copper cables and fibers in the other carrier's territory to give us the flexibility to deploy fiber-fed next generation digital loop carriers, and then feed the surrounding customers out of them on the copper."

As a reseller of mobile services, the company has faced some difficulty competing with the prices and plans of major cellular companies. The company offers a bundled package of mobile and paging capabilities, and Beattie finds that WVT customers tend to gravitate toward the direct contact wireless and voice mail offers.

Although competing with larger telecommunications providers sometimes can be difficult, WVT Communications has managed to stay well ahead of the competition through its timely courteous and efficient customer service practices.

"Customers of our larger neighbors are fed up with the level of service they're getting, and they are ready for an alternative," Beattie said.

WVT employees are active members in the community, and often are invited in address community groups and participate in chamber of commerce expos. The company also hosts an annual open house that showcases its services and regularly offers basic Internet classes for first-time users.

Although WVT Communications offers services throughout a tri-state region, there still is a special relationship between the employees and subscribers. Many longstanding employees know their customers. Being able to put a name with a face has created a sense of customer loyalty and boosted the company's marketing techniques, Beattie said. In fact, WVT employees are often featured on the company's advertisements.

"We're not some faceless 1-800 number in a far-off place," Beattie said. "Our customers know they can find us right here on Main Street, like they have for 99 years."
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Telephone Cooperative Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:formerly Warwick Valley Telephone Co.
Author:Jenkins, Tennille
Publication:The Exchange
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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