The FairPoint saga is well documented. Large IOC takes on millions of Verizon access lines in the Northeast, struggles with debt and integration and ultimately files for bankruptcy. FairPoint has been working hard to reverse its trajectory, but its plan just hit a significant roadblock.

FairPoint submitted a reorganization plan and hoped to emerge from bankruptcy soon. That plan has to be approved by the state PUCs where it operates. The plan received a green light from Maine. New Hampshire has not offered an opinion yet. But unfortunately for FairPoint, Vermont has rejected the plan.

The Burlington Free Press reports that Vermont has rejected FairPoint’s bankruptcy reorganization saying, “…based upon the record before us, we cannot find that FairPoint has demonstrated the financial capability to meet its obligations under Vermont law and its (state license) as a telecommunications carrier.” The rejection is of particular note because Vermont’s Governor, Jim Douglas, signaled support for the plan.

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Vermont’s stance is a far cry from Maine’s, where Maine PUC Sharon Reishus stated in a commission press release, “FairPoint’s financial restructuring and shedding of $1.7 billion in debt is certainly in the interests of Maine ratepayers — the company will emerge a healthier, more stable company able to service Maine telephone customers.”

You have to wonder what impact Vermon’t s decision will have on New Hampshire, who still has to rule on FairPoint’s bankruptcy reorganization. FairPoint will have to go back to the drawing board and find a way to convince Vermont to play along. I have no doubt they’ll get it accomplished, but it’s one more hurdle in the long road back for FairPoint.

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