CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bell Inc. will operate under a new name by the end of this year. And that name is altafiber.
The big change comes six months after an Australian private-equity firm bought Cincinnati’s former phone company with the goal of rapidly expanding its fiber-optic networks in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
“The word ‘alta’ is rooted in a word that means elevated, and that’s what altafiber is doing,” said Cincinnati Bell CEO Lee Fox, in a press release. “We’re providing an elevated connection through fiber and raising the standard of service to our customers and the communities we serve.”
Born in 1873 as a telegraph company, Cincinnati Bell has morphed over time by building, buying and shedding investments in wireless phones, computer services and digital television offerings.
By the time Macquarie Asset Management closed its $2.9 billion acquisition last September, Cincinnati Bell had already spent more than $1 billion to bring fiber-optic lines to 250,000 local homes and businesses in Greater Cincinnati. It was hoping to nearly double that number at the rate of 20,000 homes per month.
Cincinnati Bell now reaches 60% of local households with high-speed, fiber-optic service, up from 50% six months ago. But it has also expanded geographically – opening a regional headquarters in Dayton in December and announcing a $55 million investment in Greene County, east of Dayton.
“It’s a big, big deal,” said Greene County Economic Development Director Eric Henry. “We interviewed lots of companies and selected them because we think they’re the best.”
Greene County pledged $9.6 million in federal stimulus funding to supplement Cincinnati Bell’s investment. The company will lay 5 million feet of fiber-optic cables that reach 40,000 homes, including 9,600 in the eastern half of the county where high-speed internet access is sparce.
“The investment in fiber, our geographic expansion, and our partnership with Macquarie mark a clear inflection point for the company,” Fox said. “And it’s all incredibly exciting and positive for our employees and for the communities and customers that we serve.”
It will take six to nine months for Cincinnati Bell to complete the transition to its new altafiber name. The branding will not impact other Cincinnati Bell subsidiaries, Hawaiian Telcom and CBTS, an IT services firm. It will continue to engage in community activism through the Bell Charitable Foundation, a recently announced “platform for corporate giving” that will focus on economic, environmental, social, technology and health initiatives.
“We are proud of the Cincinnati Bell name, and it will always be a part of our history,” Fox said. “We are still the local hometown company, with 2,000 employees across Greater Cincinnati.”