FairPoint wants broadband regulations relaxed

Just in time for its Chapter 11 filing, FairPoint Communications is now asking regulators to realign the broadband deployment requirements it agreed to meet in order to acquire Verizon's New England lines.

To gain necessary regulatory approval to purchase Verizon's New England lines, FairPoint agreed to invest capital to build out broadband access networks in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The three states came with specific requirements in the years following the acquisition: Maine required it to spend around $47 million; Vermont required $40 million; and New Hampshire required $52 million during the first three years and then $49 in the following two years after the three-year period.

Given all of the customer service and operational issues FairPoint has been unable to rectify since taking over Verizon's lines last year, they'll find less than sympathetic regulators in each of its New England operating states. Vermont, for one, has been investigating whether it should strip the telco of its license to operate in its state.  

Not surprisingly, FairPoint is considering a legal route to resolve the issue. The telco is asking its legal team to see if its Chapter 11 filing could enable it to realign its regulatory requirements in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

However, FairPoint Chairman and CEO wants to look at legal action as a last resort. "It's my preference that all that will be resolved on a dialogue basis instead of on a court basis," Fairpoint's chief executive officer, David Hauser, said on a conference call today. "We're very committed to broadband rollout and to the next-generation network. People should feel comfortable that we're going to continue to expand our business."

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