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July 8, 2016

Service changes to FairPoint landlines raising concerns

The first in a series of seven public meetings about upcoming changes to FairPoint Communications’ price-controlled, basic landline phone service drew a crowd of approximately 30 Thursday evening to Bangor City Hall, mostly senior citizens hoping for clarity about how and what changes will be coming next month.

The Bangor Daily News reports that the catalyst for the public meetings is a law that was passed by Maine’s legislature that will eliminate regulated landline service in over 20 of the largest communities in the state starting on Aug. 28, with an initial selection of seven communities. The landline plans, known as a provider of last resort service, is a bare-bones offering that lacks common features, including voicemail, and only allows local calls.

The BDN reports that Public Advocate Timothy Schneider reiterated to the crowd, some of whom were worried the changes would eliminate landline and Lifeline services, that no telecom company is able to eliminate basic landline services without first getting approval from the Public Utilities Commission.

“This is one of the things we’ve done in a very measured way because we wanted to be sure there’s reporting obligations in this legislation that would allow the Legislature to see what’s happening,” Schneider said, according to the BDN. “And if we’ve made a move that’s too aggressive or service changes in a way that we didn’t anticipate, the Legislature has the authority to act.”

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