FairPoint Communications

Steve Zind / VPR

It should come as no surprise that the use of landline phones in the U.S. keeps dropping. But for residents of remote parts of Vermont, landlines can be essential.

The state and the company purchasing FairPoint Communications have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that helps clear the way for approval of the sale. The Department of Public Service says Illinois-based Consolidated Communications agreed to nearly all of the state’s requests.

While their counterparts in New Hampshire and Maine have approved the sale of FairPoint Communications, the Vermont Public Service Board is still reviewing it. 

Pat Wellenbach / AP/File

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch are calling on FairPoint Communications and the company that hopes to purchase it to cancel a round of layoffs scheduled for the end of the month.

FairPoint Communications is being sold.

Pat Wellenbach / AP/File

FairPoint Communications is being sold. Consolidated Communications, based in Matoon, Illinois, is planning pay about $1.5 billion for the company that provides landline and internet service in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Steve Zind / VPR

FairPoint Communications’ internet customers in northern New England are paying more for their service. The company has added a fee to the price of its internet packages, which critics say is an all-too-common practice among internet service providers.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission is considering a staff recommendation to fine FairPoint Communications for failing to meet the state’s telephone service quality metrics. 

The Vermont E-911 Board says it will take a few days to confirm what caused a failure that prevented 44 calls from getting through Wednesday.

After net losses of more than $136 million in fiscal 2014, $90.5 million in 2013 and $153 million in 2012, FairPoint reported a net profit of $90 million dollars in fiscal 2015.

VPR/Steve Zind

Once upon a time the phone book was an integral part of every home reference library; a source of emergency contacts, a map of time zones, a listing of area codes from here to Alaska – and all those phone numbers. 

But FairPoint Communications says it is no longer issuing residential phone listings in New Hampshire and Maine. However, the printed residential phone directory lives on in Vermont. At least for now.

FairPoint Communications says DSL broadband customers in portions of 11 Vermont towns have access to higher speeds as a result of recent upgrades by the company.

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At least $175 million in federal money has been spent in Vermont to improve broadband service.

While it has helped expand coverage and improve speeds, Vermont still has a long way to go to reach its stated goal, which would essentially require fiber optic service to every Vermont address by 2024.

Steve Zind / VPR/file

The quasi-judicial Public Service Board questioned representatives of FairPoint Communications and the  Public Service Department Thursday about a memorandum of understanding that would end a nine-month board investigation into the company.

Steve Zind / VPR/file

Under an agreement announced this week, FairPoint Communications moves a step closer to winning changes to regulations that got the company in trouble for long repair delays in Vermont.

VPR/Steve Zind

The Department of Public Service and FairPoint Communications have reached a settlement over service delays and E-911 problems experienced by the company last year.

Pat Wellenbach / AP

FairPoint Communications issued a rosier than usual second-quarter earnings report.

While there were some bright spots in revenue, the company said much of the more favorable financial picture is due to lower labor expenses since it settled with unionized worker earlier this year.

There have long been rumblings of a possible sale of FairPoint Communications, Vermont’s primary telephone and Internet service provider. Last week, speculation was heightened when FairPoint’s CEO, Paul Sunu, told investors and industry analysts that the company “must consider mergers and acquisitions as either a seller or buyer as part of our overall strategy.”

VPR/Steve Zind

FairPoint Communications will close its call center in South Burlington, eliminating 60 jobs, the company announced.

The closing is part of a larger effort that will result in the loss of approximately 260 jobs in 17 states. Its not clear if there are Vermont jobs cuts in addition to the call center positions. The company says it has not produced a state-by-state breakdown of the cuts.

In announcing the cuts, the company cited the loss of land line business to wireless and cable providers.

Pat Wellenbach / AP/File

Talk of a possible sale of FairPoint Communications has picked up recently, on the heels of a collective bargaining agreement that will make the company more attractive to prospective buyers, and recent comments by FairPoint's CEO.

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