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Verizon hearing set for Portsmouth

CHESAPEAKE — Chesapeake customers of Verizon local telephone service will have the chance to weigh in on the proposed merger between Verizon and Frontier Communications Inc.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, at the Scioto County Welcome Center, 342 Second St., in Portsmouth.

In early May Frontier and Verizon agreed to allow Frontier to acquire almost 5 million access lines from Verizon in a deal worth just under $10 billion.

That merger will create the largest rural communications service provider to be called SpinCo.

In Ohio there are 435,000 Verizon customers with 5,300 residential access lines in the Chesapeake area.

Three public hearings were ordered last week by the PUCO. This followed a request by the Columbus-based Office of Consumers’ Counsel for 11 public hearings.

“While we do not believe public hearings are necessary for the commission to determine that this transaction will benefit Ohioans, the decision to hold three hearings, rather than the 11 proposed by the Office of Consumers’ Counsel, will give the commission sufficient public input on the Verizon-Frontier transaction,” said Todd Colquitt, state president, Ohio public affairs, policy and communications at Verizon, in an emailed release. “We are eager to move through the process so that the commission can develop the record to consider and approve this transaction.”

The OCC has voiced concerns that there be sufficient scrutiny to make the merger in the public interest, Ryan Lippe, senior communications specialists for the OCC, has said.

The other hearings will be Sept. 8 at the Salvation Army citadel at New Philadelphia and Sept. 9 at the Marion City Hall council chambers. All hearings will start at 6 p.m.

Written comments can be sent to the PUCO, Docketing Division, 180 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215.