FairPoint pushes for relaxed telecom regulations in NH

As FairPoint (Nasdaq: FRP) continues to move ahead with its reorganization process, the service provider believes that deregulation in its New Hampshire markets could level the competitive playing field.

In an interview with the New Hampshire Business Review, Teresa Rosenberger, FairPoint's New Hampshire President, said that regulator should take off "shackles on our ankles" and "Let us be like everyone else on the retail level."

While FairPoint has been making marketed progress with rolling out mainly DSL broadband and expanding its core VantagePoint network to serve wholesale wireless backhaul customers and retail business customers, it continues to lose voice customers.

At the end of the second quarter, the service provider reported it had only 1.1 million access lines, down from the 1.56 million it had in Q1 2008, but it added 7,600 new broadband subscribers.

Of course, the other question on the minds of broadband subscribers is if it will ever expand the availability of the FiOS service it acquired when it took over Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) New England lines in 2009. Right now, it appears to be sticking with DSL.  

Rosenberg said that despite the fact that it has lost lines to cable operators and other players, "we are regulated like a monopoly, yet we have total competition." She added that New Hampshire should follow the regulatory lead of fellow New England states Maine and Vermont.

Ideally, FairPoint would like the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission (PUC) to no longer regulate its retail business. In the near-term, the ILEC is asking the PUC to get rid of specific requirements like having to file special contracts with customers, something that Rosenberger says enables CLECs and cable operators to "steal our business."

One ray of hope for FairPoint came last year when state Sen. Bob O'Dell sponsored Senate Bill 48, a measure that would exempt service providers like FairPoint from special contract regulations. However, the Senate gave it back to Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which O'Dell oversees.

For more:
- New Hampshire Business Review has this article

Earnings summary: Wireline in the second quarter 2011

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