State regs get tough on Fairpoint about a year too late...
Back in the Spring you'll recall that Fairpoint unveiled a plan
to "turn things around," after the telco struggled to integrate acquired Verizon DSL and phone networks in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. One problem? As part of an agreement with regulators, the public wasn't allowed to see the plan, or
how well the struggling telco was adhering to a weak plan they themselves designed
. Not too surprisingly, months later finds regulators complaining that the the plan lacked substance
, as Vermont launches an inquiry into whether they should take away Fairpoint's right to do business in the state.
The state Public Service Board gave the company until Sept. 10 to formally reply to a petition filed last month in which state officials asked for an investigation into whether FairPoint has the financial viability and operations know-how to recover from its inauspicious start handling telecommunications business in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Of course, who'd provide service without Fairpoint isn't clear. Fairpoint SEC filings show a carrier that's a few nudges away from bankruptcy, and Verizon certainly isn't going to come back and run rural states they want nothing to do with. This sudden tough regulatory demeanor might have proven more useful when regulators signed off on the deal in the first place -- amidst warnings by unions and consumer advocates that Fairpoint was in no financial position to take on such a huge influx of phone and DSL subscribers.