dslreports logo
site
 
    All Forums Hot Topics Gallery
spc

spacer




how-to block ads


Search Topic:
uniqs
1236
share rss forum feed

pcme2000

join:2008-01-17
Bangor, ME

FairPoint Maine

8/12/09 | 6 comments
communication
FairPoint airs woes, proposed solutions

By Eric Russell and Kevin Miller
BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Executives at FairPoint Communications met with Gov. John Baldacci and state regulators Tuesday as part of a round of meetings this week focusing on lingering problems throughout the company’s network in northern New England.

FairPoint Chairman and CEO David Hauser briefed the governor and the Public Utilities Commission on plans to hire a consultant to identify computer and network issues believed to be causing many of the delays and other headaches reported by customers.

Company officials also discussed plans to file weekly reports with the state listing key benchmarks that will show whether FairPoint is improving or continuing to struggle.

“It was a positive, very straightforward and very frank meeting,” said David Farmer, spokesman for Baldacci.

FairPoint officials likely will face some tough questions today when they appear before the Legislature’s Utilities and Energy Committee during a special meeting to discuss the concerns regarding the company’s services.

That meeting, which is also expected to include testimony from Maine Public Advocate Richard Davies, will be held at 1 p.m. in Room 211 of the Cross State Office Building in Augusta.

Charlotte, N.C.-based FairPoint bought Verizon’s land line and Internet operations in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire last year for $2.3 billion. The company took over operations Feb. 1, but its customers have been plagued with problems since, from billing errors and service order delays to long waits on call-in complaint lines.

In a meeting with the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday, Hauser and President Peter Nixon acknowledged that their broadband telecommunications changeover in the three states was more complicated than company officials had imagined. Hauser and Nixon agreed that FairPoint has stumbled since entering the New England market, but said they hope to turn the page.

“We’ve got to make some decisions about how to get our reputation back,” Hauser said during the meeting. “A year from now, we hope to be a well-oiled machine.”

In late July, the PUC’s three commissioners declined to waive the more than $845,000 in penalties assessed against the company for its failure to deliver timely services to smaller telecommunications companies.

During the same meeting, the commissioners also endorsed a proposal by Maine’s Public Advocate’s Office that FairPoint be required to hire an independent third party to examine the company’s “back office” computer systems and networks.

FairPoint’s decision to hire a consultant appears largely consistent with that proposal.

Andrew Hagler, director of the PUC group overseeing telephone and water utilities, said FairPoint officials also briefed the commissioners on the company’s efforts to place itself on a more secure financial footing.

Hagler said the commissioners expressed impatience with the company’s progress but otherwise refrained from asking many questions. Regulators in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are exploring holding a joint session with FairPoint officials in the coming weeks.

“It was a listening opportunity for the commission,” Hagler said.

A receptionist at the PUC incorrectly told a Bangor Daily News reporter who attempted to join Tuesday’s session that the commission’s meeting with FairPoint officials was closed to the public. Hagler later said the meeting was open.

Neither of Hauser’s meetings with Baldacci nor the commissioners was publicized. Hagler said that, unlike deliberative sessions and meetings where votes are held, the PUC is not required to issue public notices for all meetings between commissioners and representatives of regulated utilities.

It is not uncommon for new CEOs of utilities to come to the PUC for “meet and greet” sessions with the commissioners, he said.

“The commission meets with CEOs of utilities all of the time, and Mr. Hauser is fairly new,” Hagler said.

After their meeting with BDN staff in Bangor, FairPoint officials planned to meet with University of Maine System Chancellor Richard Pattenaude to discuss tensions between the two entities.

Hauser and Nixon expressed concerns about the broadband network that the UMaine System already has started building to serve some customers, such as The Jackson Laboratory. Hauser explained that if UMaine continues to cherry-pick certain businesses to provide service to, FairPoint’s business model will not be successful, particularly since UMaine receives government subsidies for which FairPoint is ineligible.

“We’re willing to work with them in a variety of ways,” Hauser said. “We have an open mind for dialogue.”

»www.bangordailynews.com/detail/1 ··· um=email



tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
Reviews:
·FirstLight Fiber
·Hollis Hosting
·G4 Communications

1 recommendation

I always find it interesting when companies are having trouble they hire outside consultants.

Why do they expect someone external to the company to have more expertise then the folks actually running things on a day to day basis?

Is the CEO saying they currently don't know what is broken?

/tom


mouseferatu
Too many cats, Too many mice
Premium,MVM
join:2004-03-16
Im not sure
kudos:3

1 recommendation

said by tschmidt:

Why do they expect someone external to the company to have more expertise then the folks actually running things on a day to day basis?

Is the CEO saying they currently don't know what is broken?

/tom
Good questions there, Tom. I do a lot of utilization and QOS/QA review contracts...

1) Bringing in someone from the outside ideally does at least two things. It adds credibility to the notion that the "C's" have great concerns about the company's problems that won't just go away, and it buys time for them to get their act together. The consultant or consulting group is under a NDA, so they pose no threat of unwanted disclosure to the contrary if something smells.

With luck, it adds a third dimension and reassures an interested party that your operations are sound and just need a little fine-tuning.

2) In the case of FP, there are any number of things broken... I have no idea if any one person really could know what is broken, as most of the original Verizon db is simply gone. The deal that FP made with the NH PUC would lead one to question if the CEO has any idea what and how badly things are broken.

I do know that I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for trying to assess what is wrong with the operation- there isn't enough available errors and omissions insurance to begin to cover that job...

~Arel
--
"Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crispy and good with catsup."


tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
Reviews:
·FirstLight Fiber
·Hollis Hosting
·G4 Communications

1 recommendation

I agree it is often good to get outside perspective to critique your operation. Have done it myself.

But the problems they are having are pretty basic service delivery problems. Seems like they have more productive ways to spend money. But if it works and they are successful I'm all for it.

/tom


again

@myfairpoint.net
reply to tschmidt
What they are saying is they have no idea how to fix it. The problem is most likely poor software, can't afford new so down the tube they go.


mouseferatu
Too many cats, Too many mice
Premium,MVM
join:2004-03-16
Im not sure
kudos:3
reply to tschmidt
I wasn't saying that I believe that spending money on consultants is a good idea... just making the point that FP can buy some time and make excuses by bringing in outsiders. It helps legitimize their ineptitude in the eyes of some, anyway...

I don't believe for one minute that any amount of money spent on consultants will help what ails FP- as implied, I don't think that any sensible consultant would want to take it on.

The problems that we can see are likely the tip of the iceberg, and IMO they don't need an expensive outside source to tell them to begin by fixing those.

Consultants are very good at completely burying real issues in piles of paperwork that no one can understand, and can make the worst company look great. Bothers me, as I take a lot of pride in using honest methods and real algorithms when I work...

~Arel
--
"Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crispy and good with catsup."