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November 1, 2011 | last updated December 2, 2011 5:44 pm

Advocate, FairPoint spar over broadband

The Maine Public Advocate's office is challenging FairPoint Communications' assertion it has met state broadband expansion requirements.

The office last week filed a brief with the Maine Public Utilities Commission arguing the North Carolina-based telecommunications company hasn't met its obligation to expand its broadband service to 87% of its customers, according to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. The brief asks the PUC to seek "meaningful evidence" from FairPoint about its broadband access. FairPoint filed its own brief defending its broadband expansion, arguing the company has expanded service to 87% of its customers and is actively seeking new customers. In January, the company said it met a goal to expand access to 83% of its customers.

Wayne Jortner, senior counsel for the public advocate's office, acknowledged that FairPoint will likely need federal funding to expand broadband to the state's most rural areas, and that new federal changes could help. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission voted to redirect some money used to subsidize telephone service in rural areas to boost broadband connections, according to MPBN.

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