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August 9, 2017

FairPoint seeks to end regulated service in five more communities

FairPoint Communications is moving forward on ending regulated landline service for new customers in five more communities.

The Bangor Daily News reported that Bath, Yarmouth, Old Orchard Beach, Westbrook and Freeport are the latest of the 30 communities where the company said it no longer needs to be the required "provider of choice." Providers of choice must provide telephone service for customers at a price determined by state regulators, even if it's at a loss, in areas where the customers have no alternative. The law came out of the early 1980s deregulation of telephone service, when lawmakers feared some customers would be left without service.

A 2016 law allowed FairPoint to argue that wifi and cell service are adequate alternatives, and the company began a drawdown of communities that it believes are no longer in last resort status. The law allows FairPoint to eliminate communities from last resort status in phases.

It does not mean that FairPoint is ending service in those towns, but rather providing service at a regulated price.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission will hold public meetings in the five towns most recently added to the list in the coming months.

Eleven communities have already been determined to have sufficient alternatives to FairPoint landline service. The final towns on the list — Augusta, Brewer, Brunswick, Kittery and Windham — will be considered early next year.

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