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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

FairPoint says it hits goal for Net

MANCHESTER – FairPoint Communications says it met its goal to make high-speed Internet service available to 85 percent of its customers in New Hampshire by the end of 2010.

The company said the expansion of its DSL service required spending $135 million, laying more than 700 miles of fiber-optic cable to connect offices and nodes, and adding 290 new sites that reach 60,000 homes and businesses that previously did not have DSL service.

The goal was required by state regulators when they approved FairPoint’s purchase of Verizon Northern New England’s landline operations three years ago. It is a big step toward reaching the next mandate, that FairPoint offer broadband service to 95 percent of its customers in New Hampshire by the end of 2013.

The expansion is built around a network infrastructure the company calls VantagePoint, which uses a fiber-based network to deliver the bandwidth, data and carrier Ethernet services to distribution points, and is based on Internet protocol rather than traditional end-to-end telephone connections.

The system connects to customers over copper telephone lines.

The expansion is vital to FairPoint’s business plan, which calls for income from Internet services to replace the business of traditional landline telephone business, which is declining nationwide as people switch to mobile phones and, to a much lesser extent, voice-over-Internet service.

FairPoint has lost about 40 percent of its landline customers in New Hampshire since the cutover from Verizon systems began two years ago, with total access lines falling from 415,671 in January 2009 to 252,309 in November 2010.

“For over two years, FairPoint has been working to increase broadband availability and improve our network in the Granite State,” said Teresa Rosenberger, New Hampshire president for FairPoint. “We are very pleased to announce that we have met the target set by the regulatory agreement.”

In January, FairPoint emerged from bankruptcy with debt of $1 billion, nearly two-thirds less than the debt it had when it filed for Chapter 11 more than a year ago. The company says this restructuring has left it in much stronger position financially.

This broadband expansion was financed solely by FairPoint, the company said.

FairPoint owns and operates local exchange companies in 18 states, but its service in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine makes up the bulk of the company.