N.H. PUC puts FairPoint on notice, requests more info

New Hampshire's PUC--which last week opened up a $50 million treasure chest for beleaguered FairPoint Communications to dip into--has decided it wants a closer look at the telco's financials, including executive compensation, management practices and details about how it plans to improve its woeful service in the state.

FairPoint has struggled mightily to tame the landline network it purchased from Verizon Communications in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont last year. Operations transitioned to FairPoint in January, and it's been ugly since. The company has vowed to bring service up to snuff by June, a promise with which the PUC obviously has concerns.

This is the second letter the PUC has sent FairPoint in the past two months. In April it demanded monthly updates on the company's financial stability and customer service responses. This one is asking for more specifics. In addition to executive pay, its also seeking information on:

  • Quarter-by-quarter financial projection through 2010;
  • The status of the search for a replacement for retiring CEO Gene Johnson;
  • Projected capital expenditures for this year and next;
  • FairPoint's "cash preservation strategy";
  • Whether FairPoint has sought stimulus money for broadband expansion;
  • A description of any service improvements made with the help of two newly hired consultant groups;
  • A plan for removing old poles where new ones have been installed;
  • An explanation of how the company is dealing with service issues when the customers are public safety agencies or have medical considerations; and,
  • An explanation of what happens to customer complaints passed on to the company by the Public Utilities Commission.

The letter, said PUC Executive Director Debra Howland, "is part of an ongoing concern about (FairPoint's) ability to get back to business as usual by June. It's incumbent upon the commission to stay directly and continually informed."

It's given the company until Tuesday to respond.

For more:
- see this Concord Monitor story 

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