N.H. PUC puts FairPoint collections on hold

There have been a couple of new developments in FairPoint Communication's ongoing soap opera in New England as it tries to sort out the landline network in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine it bought from Verizon last year.

The New Hampshire PUC is blocking the company's attempts to collect past due telephone and Internet bills until FairPoint straightens out its own billing problems that include continuing to bill customers after service has been canceled and other errors. Officials are worried FairPoint might errantly attempt to collect from people incorrectly. FairPoint has been hammered by consumers and advocacy groups for its service, and the PUC wants to avoid worsening an already bad situation. The company, meanwhile, says it needs the cash from the past-due accounts to alleviate its own liquidity issues.

FairPoint also told the PUC Monday that it was behind schedule in bringing all service levels to where they were prior to cutover. It originally had targeted the end of this month to be back to "business as usual," but it still has thousands of backlogged work orders.

FairPoint, meanwhile, yesterday turned over to the PUC documents pertaining to its financial health and management, but said it was unable to provide a detailed financial forecast through 2010, one of the documents the PUC requested last month. It also said it had frozen salaries and started to restructure debt.

For more:
- see this Concord Monitor article in the Nashua Telegraph
- and this Concord Monitor article

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