MONTPELIER, Vt. — FairPoint Communications says it will settle $7 million in service quality penalties imposed by the state by expanding broadband Internet access to areas of Vermont currently without it.

Under an agreement with the Department of Public Service announced today, the expansion will enable the company to pay penalties it owed for service quality problems that began when it took over the former Verizon landline network serving northern New England.

The company and Public Service Commissioner Elizabeth Miller say the settlement is designed to help push the state toward Gov. Peter Shumlin’s goal of having broadband access in all parts of Vermont by the end of 2013.

Under the agreement, the state and the company will jointly craft a plan to get broadband to 51 communities currently without it.