Leader Blues

Saturday, November 15, 2008

TOP STORY > >CenturyTel opens $2.2M complex

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

CenturyTel celebrated its $2.2 million, 12,000 square-foot expansion of its Jacksonville facility with three days of grand opening activities Tuesday through Thursday.

The Jacksonville facility at 2616 W. Main St. is now a regional office responsible for 700,000 customers in eight southern and southeastern states.

The expansion brings in about 30 more employees, as well as new office space, meeting rooms and a new retail outlet.

The new outlet includes an “experience center” that will give customers ways to try out computers, large screen televisions, cell phones, high-speed Internet, and other voice and video products.

“It’s a place where customers can experience our products,” communications manager Jeff Jones said.

John Stuckey, area operations manager, added, “The experience center shows off our commitment to providing advanced communication products and great service.” He said the retail outlet was an area where “customers can test drive our products and quality of service.”

“We are very proud of the new building,” said Jeff Jones, spokesman for CenturyTel. “It’s very energy efficient, uses a lot of natural light and has the latest fiber optic and wiring technology,” he said.

With the variety of services now available at the Jacksonville facility, Jones said, “It ensures our customers of a local solution.”

Grand opening activities included giving military members a chance to communicate with other family members on Veteran’s Day, health screenings on Wednesday and classes and workshops Thursday on high-speed Internet, satellite television and universal remotes.

The completed expansion con-solidates regional operations, bringing in employees from all over CenturyTel’s southern region, which is comprised of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

CenturyTel is a provider of telecommunications, high-speed Internet and entertainment services through fiber and broadband networks in small to mid-size cities in 25 states.

CenturyTel affiliates across Arkansas provide local exchange service in about 140 communities.

The company now known as CenturyTel was founded in 1968 as Central Telephone and Electronics, with 10,000 access lines in three states.

In 1978, the company began to replace its electromagnetic switches with digital computer technology.

The same year, Century stock began being traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1983, CenturyTel entered the cellular phone business with the FCC’s authorization of cellular mobile phone use.

By 2002, CenturyTel had nearly 2.5 million access lines nationally, and Business Week ranked CenturyTel as 16th among the top 100 information technology companies and first among all other U.S.-based telecommunication companies, according to a CenturyTel media release.