Kathleen Abernathy has served both the private and public sector as a communications and technology lawyer. Her recent move to Frontier Communications as chief legal officer and executive vice president blends all facets of her background as she aims to bring widespread broadband access to rural America.
Poised to become the largest rural telephone company in the U.S., Frontier is actively working with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff to implement President Obama’s mandate to ensure that all Americans have broadband access, Abernathy says. She’s no stranger to the FCC–Abernathy served as commissioner from 2001 to 2005. Most recently she was a partner at Wilkinson Barker Knauer.
“It’s a great opportunity to work with the FCC on this because the vision for our consumers in our market is essentially the same as what the FCC is looking at,” she says.
Abernathy is eager to meet the challenges of making broadband accessible to rural communities. High-speed connectivity will allow some rural residents to access “telemedicine” options so they don’t have to make six-hour drives for a medical consult, and she says it will give exceptional math students access to advanced courses not offered in their area. “[If] you’re … disabled you can be online communicating and sharing ideas with people all over the world, and it doesn’t matter that you are limited in your ability to be mobile,” she says. “I think it’s inevitable that we will all embrace broadband.”
Not only is Abernathy excited to bring broadband to rural areas, but she’s also thrilled about her transition in-house.
“What I like most about it as compared to being an outside counsel,” she says, “is I get to be involved in the middle of building the company and planning the future of the company–and that’s terribly exciting.”