Maine ISP: FairPoint Overcharges for Leased Lines

A Maine phone company is asking that state’s public utilities commission to look into bankrupt FairPoint Communications’ business practices.

Great Works Internet insisted in a petition filed last week that FairPoint overbills for the high-speed, high-capacity lines Great Works leases.

But FairPoint says it’s the wronged party. The incumbent, insolvent LEC, operating amid turmoil after a disastrous takeover of Verizon landlines in New England, says Great Works owes it about $2 million.

“The bottom line is they disagree with us. And we disagree with them,” FairPoint spokesman Jeff Nevins told the Associated Press. “We feel we have legal standing.”

FairPoint says it charges market rates for the lines it leases to Great Works, but Great Works disagrees. It believes it’s being overcharged and fears FairPoint will disconnect its lines, which would reportedly cut off 14 lucrative customers from service. Great Works told the AP it has a contract through March 2011 with FairPoint; however, FairPoint allegedly is threatening to axe the existing arrangement if the two companies don’t reach a deal by Feb. 12.

Meantime, FairPoint, in response to Great Works’ filing, says the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has jurisdiction over the dispute, not the public utilities commission. Again, Great Works disagrees.

“They remain a regulated utility in Maine,” the company’s staff attorney, Eric Samp, told the AP. “That doesn’t change in bankruptcy.”

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