FairPoint Wants to Renege on Terms of Verizon Merger

Utility regulators in Maine this week will hear arguments from FairPoint Communications that the bankrupt provider should be allowed to delay its five-year broadband expansion plans.

The expansion was part of the conditions for FairPoint taking over Verizon Communications Inc.’s landlines in New England – getting high-speed Internet access to more people between April and December of this year was part of the agreement. But now FairPoint wants to put off those plans; it’ll ask the Maine Public Utilities Commission for permission to do so on Wednesday and Thursday.

According to reports, the initial deal between FairPoint and regulators called for FairPoint to cut the cost of basic phone service by more than $4 per month for at least five years; make broadband available to 83 percent of all lines within two years, and 90 percent over five years; and freeze prices for current Verizon 768kbps DSL customers at $15 a month with a two-year contract, and $18 with a one-year contract, for at least two years.

FairPoint wants to move those deadlines back and lower the percentage of 768kbps DSL-capable lines.

This week’s hearings will be open to the public, but not open for public comment.

FairPoint filed for bankruptcy last year after taking on too much debt and too many commitments with the Verizon wireline deal.

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