FairPoint To Get Grilled by NH Lawmakers on Thursday?

New Hampshire lawmakers will be the only ones on hand on Thursday in a meeting with bankrupt FairPoint Communications Inc. Officials from Maine and Vermont were supposed to attend, too, but have decided to hold their own, separate conferences with the ILEC, according to reports.

The concern is the “long-term viability of our telecommunications system,” Sylvia Larsen, president of the New Hampshire Senate, told the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Policymakers will press FairPoint executives about jobs and customer service post-bankruptcy, in efforts to “see that they follow through on their promises,” the heads of all three states’ legislative branches said in a joint statement.

Jeff Nevins, a FairPoint spokesman, told the Union Leader the company will cooperate.

“We’ll be there when they ask us to be there, and we will answer questions and present information in the format they decide,” Nevins said.

FairPoint filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 26 after weeks of speculation that the company, toppled by a debt-laden purchase of Verizon landlines, couldn’t stay solvent much longer. In fact, the service provider had just skipped a crucial debt payment because it couldn’t come up with the money.

That missed payment marked the beginning of the end for the company, which had steadily been going downhill. Back-office integrations had fallen apart and customer service was so bad that some groups wanted to boot FairPoint from Vermont altogether. Three days before filing Chapter 11, FairPoint tried to convince unions to help it reduce costs by cutting worker pay.

FairPoint is expected to give its reorganization plan to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court by Dec. 10. In the meantime, state leaders want to keep tabs on the carrier. The first meeting is scheduled for Nov. 12 in Concord.

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