March 13, 2010

FairPoint to cut Maine phone rates

— The Associated Press

FairPoint Communications Inc.'s phone customers in parts of Maine that were formerly served by Verizon will see rate decreases in their upcoming bills, the company said Wednesday.

FairPoint President Peter Nixon said the rate decreases ''will greatly benefit our customers in these difficult economic times. These customers will notice a credit in their bills in December and their monthly charge will be going down.''

In their December 2008 bills, most customers will see a one-time credit ranging from $8.47 to $32.10, depending on the customer's calling plan. For many residential customers, the credit will be $19. After that, base rates will go down.

The rate decreases are part of the Verizon landline sale agreement as approved by the Maine Public Utilities Commission. The new rates settled a long-standing rate case that had remained unresolved before the PUC until the sale was completed last winter, FairPoint spokesman Jeff Nevins said.

FairPoint completed the $2.3 billion purchase of Verizon's wired telephone and Internet business in northern New England in March. Each of the three states issued their own regulatory orders allowing the sale. Because only Maine's order included the lower rates, they do not apply in New Hampshire or Vermont, Nevins said.

Verizon has been billing customers on behalf of FairPoint. Starting in January, eligible customers will see a monthly credit on their bills until FairPoint transitions to its own billing system by the end of that month. After that, the decreased rates will replace the credit on the bills.

Residential customers enrolled in FairPoint's Premium calling plan, for example, will see a nearly 24 percent decrease in their basic monthly rates as they decrease from $19.29 to $14.69.

For those enrolled in the Economy calling plan, the basic monthly rate will decrease from $17.79 to $14.69 and their calling areas will be expanded to the same calling areas as in the Premium plan. Business customers will also see their rates go down.

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