Today, the Manchester Journal wrote an article where the local president of FairPoint Communications asked state regulators to LOOSEN regulation standards for them due to the competitive marketplace of the telephone business in this state.
Now, when I initially read this story, I thought it was from the Onion. That is how utterly crazy this story is for those living in Vermont. Please understand that wanting loose regulations in general is far from a bad thing. What makes this case absurd is that FairPoint is universally hated by just about everyone in Vermont.
Things have been so bad for FairPoint that Vermont regulators have spent months looking into the numerous complaints of terrible service that the state received from FairPoint customers. Examples included customers having their service disconnected for no reason, customers waiting weeks for their service to be fixed and customers not receiving promised bill credits.
These issues became so wide-spread that FairPoint was recently forced to settle with the state over their terrible service. The settlement includes a promise that they would make substantial customer service changes, promise to expand their broadband speeds and a promise to issue large amounts of credits to FairPoint customers.
But in order to fix all of these issues, FairPoint is now telling the state that they need less rules?
The company and the Public Service Department will ask the Public Service Board to open a new case. The case would evaluate whether FairPoint should have looser regulatory standards in areas where the company has phone competition, evaluate the current standard that pushes the company to make phone repairs within 24 hours, and use the board’s decision in the separate case to amend its regulation guidelines. – Manchester Journal
You see, according to FairPoint, they are “held to a higher standard” than others. FairPoint also claims that they struggle to deal with the “outdated landline regulations that make it difficult to compete with other telecom companies that do not come under the same state scrutiny.”
FairPoint is right. Listen to some of these absurd requests that the state puts on them:
The two parties also had an ongoing dispute over several of the Public Service Department’s requests for information; (FairPoint) said much of the information was too burdensome to provide. “We had quite an argument with FairPoint over what should be public and what should not. We decided to settle, and then there were some issues involving service quality metrics that we were not able to agree to” said Jim Porter, the director of telecommunications and connectivity at the Public Service Department. – Manchester Journal
How dare the state demand to know exactly how FairPoint is doing going forward. Don’t Vermont people understand that the best way forward is to let FairPoint do all of their business behind closed doors? Nevermind that FairPoint takes tens of millions in taxpayer dollars from the FCC for their so-called broadband expansion plans that never occur.
And FairPoint’s CEO Paul Sunu made it clear what his priorities were during the company’s second-quarter conference call in which he claimed that while FairPoint “supports the intent” of the federal grant program, “it may not be profitable to accept the money.”
Translation: The FCC putting already light restrictions on where taxpayer money can be spent by telecom companies is too burdensome for FairPoint. The feds need to just let FairPoint do whatever they want with our money!
Last year, a number of groups in Maine got together to try and push for new telecom competitors to enter their market. When that failed, local businesses went door-to-door begging everyone to send letters to the city asking for them to create their own fiber network.
Guess who had an issue with this?
“We firmly believe that this [OTO Fiber proposal] does not match the intent of the ConnectME Authority [grant process].” – Jeff Nevins, FairPoint public relations
Translation: Even though our current internet blows, you shouldn’t have any other choice.