PORTLAND, Maine, April 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Governor Paul LePage today signed into law historic legislation changing the way telecommunications providers are regulated in Maine.
"This bill is an excellent example of what our administration promised to do," said LePage. "This legislation reduces red tape and regulation, and puts all telecommunication providers under the same set of rules." LePage said the legislation modernizes regulation, while continuing to provide the necessary protections to Maine consumers.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Stacey Fitts, R-Pittsfield, moves the regulatory requirements of all telecommunications providers closer to parity. The new regulations will continue to protect the public interests and do not increase regulation on any one sector of the industry.
"The legislation puts in place much needed regulatory reform reflecting today's competitive realities," said Fitts. "The current regulatory environment was outdated based on changes in the telecommunications marketplace. This is groundbreaking legislation that positions Maine as a leader in developing regulatory reform at the state level."
Mike Reed, Maine state president for FairPoint Communications, Inc. said that the legislation is a bold step forward and recognizes that the industry is going through a period of dramatic change.
"Vigorous competition is a reality in Maine, and telecommunications regulation will now reflect that," said Reed. "This sets the stage to put all telecommunication providers, regardless of the technology they use, on a level playing field."
Reed said that the new regulation provides regulatory freedom for all products and services, except Provider of Last Resort (POLR) responsibilities, and allows FairPoint flexibility to quickly adjust its pricing to respond to changes in the marketplace.
Also, it removes or drastically reduces long-standing regulatory burdens – some with financial penalties – that are no longer necessary in this highly competitive environment.
The bill also provides protection for consumers by maintaining POLR requirements, thereby ensuring that all consumers have affordable access to basic voice service. Because providing POLR service can be very costly, the state now will move forward with a process to evaluate the need for POLR and to determine a funding mechanism for ongoing support of the program.
The legislation was supported by a broad-based industry coalition including cable companies, incumbent local exchange companies, wireless providers, consumer groups and industry trade groups.
The legislation is the first fundamental overhaul of the regulatory statute since 1913. It provides broad reform that reshapes and modernizes how telecommunications will be regulated in Maine. Additionally, the reform helps set up an environment that encourages innovation and continued investment in telecommunications services in the state.
The process started during last year's legislative session when the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology (EUT) issued a directive to the Maine Public Utilities Commission to undertake a comprehensive study of the current regulatory structure in Maine. The study set the stage for reform that now provides a comprehensive reshaping of how telecommunications are regulated in Maine. The bill can be found at Maine Legislature.
About FairPoint Communications, Inc.
FairPoint Communications, Inc., (NasdaqCM: FRP) is a leading communications provider of high-speed Internet access, local and long-distance phone, television and other broadband services to customers in communities across 18 states. Through its fast, reliable network, FairPoint delivers affordable data and voice networking communications solutions to residential, business and wholesale customers. FairPoint delivers VantagePoint(SM) services through its resilient IP-based network in northern New England. This state-of-the-art network provides Ethernet connections that support video conferencing, e-learning and other broadband based applications. Additional information about FairPoint products and services is available at www.FairPoint.com. You can also connect with FairPoint on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/myfairpoint) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/myfairpoint).
SOURCE FairPoint Communications, Inc.