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Public Service Board Closes FairPoint Investigation

VPR/Steve Zind
State regulators say they're satisfied with FairPoint's response to service quality issues and a system outage.

The Public Service Board has given its approval to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that concludes an investigation into FairPoint Communications.

The investigation centered on service quality issues, primarily repair delays experienced by FairPoint customers in late 2014. It also concerned a system outage in November, 2014 that affected Vermont’s E-911 services.

FairPoint and the Public Service Department went before the board in August asking that it close the investigation. The department said it was satisfied FairPoint had sufficiently addressed the system failure and service quality issues. 

As part of the MOU, FairPoint agreed to provide bill credits to approximately 22,000 customers in Vermont, as a result of service delays.

The company also agreed to apply for federal funding to expand and improve internet service in the state. 

Additionally, the department said it would join the company in asking the board to eliminate service quality requirements for all but those customers for whom FairPoint is the only available telephone provider. 

“We find the MOU to be a reasonable settlement between the Department and FairPoint,” the board concluded Friday.

However, the board expressed concerns about two areas of the inquiry.

While noting there have been improvements in service quality, the board cautioned the company to “make every effort” meet the same benchmarks as other telecommunications providers.

The board also says it continues to be concerned about FairPoint’s interpretation of a rule requiring bill credits.

Now that the MOU has been approved, the board is expected to take on the issue of service quality requirements in a different docket.

Two parties filed comments relating to the MOU.

Design Access Network and ECFiber had raised a number of issues which the board said fall outside of the purview of the present docket but, “may warrant consideration in future proceedings.”

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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