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State Settlement With FairPoint Includes Bill Credits And Broadband Investment

VPR/Steve Zind
Under a settlement with the state, FairPoint will provide thousands of retroactive bill credits and invest in broadband expansion.

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.

The Public Service Board, which has been investigating the delays, will have final approval of the agreement.

Under the settlement, FairPoint will issue as many as 22,700 bill credits to customers who experienced outages over the last two years.

In the future, the company also agrees to provide better information to customers about bill credits.

FairPoint will also make upgrades to its infrastructure to improve reliability of E-911 service. An outage in November was caused by problems with the company's network and at the end of July, the company officially assumed sole responsibility for Vermont E-911 service under a contract signed with the state last year.  

FairPoint also agrees to participate in a federal program known as CAF II, which promises $8.8 million annually for six years to expand broadband in Vermont.

The company will make what the department calls a "significant matching investment" in broadband.

CAF II funding is designed to provide broadband service at speeds of 10/1 (10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload). The FCC currently defines broadband as 25/3. According to the Department of Public Service, approximately 70 percent of Vermonters have access to speeds that meet the FCC definition.

In a statement, the company says service delays have returned to normal levels since a worker’s strike ended earlier this year.

According to FairPoint, the settlement also includes an agreement for a review of the regulatory requirements that apply to the company in light of increased competition in the telecommunications industry.  

In the past, FairPoint has said it should not be required to meet certain service quality standards that don’t apply to its major competitors.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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