DATE: March 16, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Jane Margesson, AARP Maine Communications Director
(207) 229-5628 or email@example.com
AARP Maine Attending PUC Community Meetings on Deregulation of Basic Landline Telephone Service in 5 Towns, Urges Outreach to Local Residents
PORTLAND: Beginning this spring, FairPoint customers in five of Maine’s most populous towns will start to see changes in their basic landline telephone service as new deregulation measures are rolled out. The changes can be confusing. AARP Maine is working to ensure that local residents are aware of informational meetings and have access to information about the changes and what it will mean for them.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will host informational meetings in the towns listed below. The meetings offer FairPoint customers and other residents the opportunity to ask questions about these changes.
- March 20, Cape Elizabeth Town Council Chambers, 6-7pm, 320 Ocean House Road, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107 (Storm date: April 3, 6-7pm)
- March 22, Gorham Town Council Chambers, 6-7pm, 75 South Street, Gorham, ME 04038 (via 25 Ballpark Road) (Storm date: April 19, 6-7pm)
- March 23, Waterville City Hall Council Chambers (3rd Floor), 6-7pm, 93 Main Street, Waterville, ME 04901 (Storm date: April 6, 6-7pm)
- March 28, Kennebunk Town Hall, Room 300 Third Floor, 6-7pm, 1 Summer Street, Kennebunk, ME 04043.(Side Entrance of Building) (Storm date: April 4, 6-7pm)
- March 30, Scarborough Town Hall Council Chamber A, 6-7pm, 259 U.S. Route 1, Scarborough, ME 04070 (Storm date: April 10, 6-7pm)
A law passed in 2016, An Act To Increase Competition and Ensure a Robust Information and Telecommunications Market, rolls out in 22 of Maine’s most populous towns following a set schedule:
- February 2017- Cape Elizabeth, Gorham, Kennebunk, Scarborough and Waterville
- August 2017- Bath, Freeport, Old Orchard Beach, Westbrook and Yarmouth
- February 2018- Augusta, Brewer, Brunswick, Kittery and Windham
- The changes already rolled out in Auburn, Bangor, Biddeford, Lewiston, Portland, Sanford and South Portland in August, 2016
Current POLR customers in the 22 municipalities listed above will be affected by the law. Each customer will receive the following notice in their monthly statement from FairPoint:
“Effective August 28, 2016, FairPoint Communications – NNE is no longer obligated to provide Provider of Last Resort (“POLR”) service in (town). For customers that currently receive POLR services, we are required to continue to provide POLR service to you at the same rates, terms and conditions that we offer to other POLR customers in the state of Maine for a period of one year from that date. In order to inform you of the upcoming changes in regulation, the Maine Public Utilities Commission will hold a public meeting on (date), from 6:00 to 7:00 PM at (location). If you have any questions, please call the customer service phone number on your bill.”
Anyone who isn’t certain whether or not they are a POLR customer should contact FairPoint at 1-866-984-2001 with their name and customer account number. Non-POLR customers and all FairPoint customers outside these 22 municipalities are not affected.
The new law provides certain specific consumer protections negotiated by AARP Maine which include the following:
- The law’s immediate application to deregulate landline telephone service is limited to the 22 most populous towns;
- Customers will be grandfathered for one year with guaranteed rates, terms and conditions;
- The PUC must measure and report the impact of deregulation on customers, workforce and service; and
- The legislature will have the opportunity to address any issues or concerns.
For the municipalities that will continue to be regulated:
- Customers will benefit from a rate cap, in addition to a discount for customers with low-income;
- The PUC has authority to both investigate and penalize failure to meet service quality requirements; and
- The new law prohibits the impairment, reduction or discontinuation of service.
For more information:
AARP Maine, 207-776-6303
FairPoint Communications, 1-866-984-2001
Office of the Public Advocate, 207-624-3687
Public Utilities Commission, 207-287-3831
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into ‘Real Possibilities’ by changing the way America defines aging. With staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and promote the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare security, financial security and personal fulfillment. AARP also advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation magazine, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @aarp and our CEO @JoAnn_Jenkins on Twitter.