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 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 the 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)
On March 20th in Cape Elizabeth, the PUC will host the first of five municipal meetings to offer FairPoint customers in select Maine towns information about these upcoming changes. Only Provider of Last Resort (POLR) customers will be affected by the upcoming deregulation of FairPoint’s basic landline telephone service.
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 you can contact:
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