Regulatory agreements free up funds to connect more unserved areas
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (March 25, 2011) – FairPoint Communications and the Vermont Department of Public Service have reached key agreements that will allow the company to invest approximately $7 million to expand its broadband network and bring high-speed Internet to “last-mile” Vermonters.
Department of Public Service Commissioner Elizabeth Miller said the agreement, which requires FairPoint to invest past penalty assessments for broadband buildout, helps achieve the state’s goal to bring high-speed Internet service to all Vermonters.
“I appreciate the cooperation and diligent work FairPoint expended in reaching an agreement that benefits FairPoint’s customers and advances the state’s goal of universal broadband and cellular coverage by the end of 2013,” Miller said.
“The Governor and the Legislature know that high-speed Internet availability will economically benefit all Vermonters and is a key milestone to Vermont’s future success; the Department recognizes that penalties are best used to get to the last mile and provide critical broadband to customers,” Miller added.
The agreement, which still requires approval from the Vermont Public Service Board, redirects past penalty payments owed by FairPoint and puts them to a much better use, said Mike Smith, Vermont state president for FairPoint.
“The governor’s top priority is to get all Vermonters off of dial-up and connected with high-speed Internet by 2013. We asked the Department for the flexibility to help fulfill the Governor’s ConnectVT initiative and it agreed,” Smith said.
“FairPoint has done more to get broadband to Vermonters than all other providers. We’ve spent more than $50 million of our own money and will place almost 1,000 miles of fiber this year to bring total high-speed coverage to at least half of our exchanges,” said Smith.
The Department of Public Service has targeted 51 communities in Vermont as unserved areas, Miller said. The Department and FairPoint will evaluate the potential communities and select areas to reach with high-speed Internet.
The approximately $7 million in penalties is being assessed for not meeting past service quality measurements for retail and wholesale customers.
Additionally, the Department of Public Service and FairPoint announced an agreement that, with Vermont Public Service Board approval, will provide FairPoint with regulatory flexibility to operate in a highly competitive telecommunications industry while ensuring that regulatory oversight continues for basic telephone service, service quality and consumer protection.
FairPoint Communications, Inc. is a provider of communications services to communities across the country. Today, FairPoint owns and operates local exchange companies in 18 states offering advanced communications with a personal touch, including local and long distance voice, data, Internet, television and broadband services. FairPoint is traded on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol FRP. Learn more at www.fairpoint.com.
About the Department of Public Service
The Department of Public Service is an agency within the executive branch of Vermont state government. Its charge is to represent the public interest in matters regarding energy, telecommunications, water and wastewater. The Department is a separate agency from the Vermont Public Service Board, which serves as the decision-making authority in utility regulatory cases.