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Alaska Communications closing Fairbanks customer service center

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Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 12:03 am | Updated: 6:38 am, Tue Feb 19, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — Alaska Communications is closing its Fairbanks customer service center and will consolidate the facility’s services in Anchorage.

The Fairbanks center, located downtown in the former Woolworth’s building on Cushman Street, has 13 employees.

“We are not planning layoffs,” company spokeswoman Heather Cavanaugh said Monday morning. “We definitely want to be clear about that. We hope to move Fairbanks contact center employees to other positions in Fairbanks or Anchorage.”

The action is effective March 4. Company executives flew to Fairbanks from Anchorage early Monday to inform employees, Cavanaugh said.

The move is part of a company strategy “to simplify how we do business,” Cavanaugh said, adding that the goal is to increase customer service and improve the company’s long-term growth.

The downtown center handles phone queries from customers. The company’s retail store will still be handling in-person questions, including those about billing.

“Something else that’s important for Fairbanks to know is we plan to increase investment in our retail store and in our broadband network in 2013,” she said. “It would be building out our network, bringing new services to Fairbanks and expanding our retail store.”

Alaska Communications has 81 employees in Fairbanks, including the 13 at the downtown contact center. The company occupies all of the downtown building.

The downtown building was in the late 1990s and early 2000s involved in a dispute between the city of Fairbanks and another

telephone company, PTI Communications of Alaska, whic purchased the municipally owned phone system from the city in 1997.

The sale agreement called for PTI to move its state headquarters from Anchorage to downtown Fairbanks. Steps were taken toward that and included the renovation of the Woolworth’s building and the moving to Fairbanks of some high-level Alaska operations. But PTI was then acquired by CenturyTel and later by Alaska Communications, and the phone system’s management was moved to Anchorage. City officials objected but later reached an agreement with Alaska Communications executives to end the dispute without legal action.

Contact managing editor Rod Boyce at 459-7585. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMeditor.

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