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FairPoint Making 'Substantial Progress' On Repair Delays

State officials say FairPoint Communications is making significant progress reducing the backlog of telephone repairs.

Public Service Department Commissioner Chris Recchia told the Senate Finance Committee on Friday that the number of instances in which customers have been waiting more than 24 hours for telephone repairs had been cut from 1,800 to 1,200 in just one week.

Department officials talk to FairPoint daily. Since Recchia spoke to the committee, the department says the company reports it has cut the number of outstanding repairs even further, to roughly 800.

FairPoint is required to perform repairs for the loss of dial tone service within 24 hours. State officials say an existing backlog got even worse when FairPoint’s unionized workers went on strike in October.

A spike in repair delays and customer complaints has prompted an investigation by the Public Service Board.

Vermont Telecommunications Director Jim Porter says FairPoint has made "substantial progress’’ in the past week, but says the number of outstanding service issues is, “still way too high.”

Porter says he has no reason to doubt FairPoint's numbers. He says the company has been mobilizing resources to deal with the service repair backlog and it appears to be paying off. However, he says it's still to early to tell if the company will be able to reduce the number to an acceptable level.

Recchia told lawmakers that FairPoint has increased the number of its service personnel in Vermont to 100, which, he says, is twice as many as prior to the strike. 

Earlier this month the Department of Public Service said it had received more than 1,200 complaints about telephone and Internet service service since the strike began. The department said there were instances when FairPoint customers had been without telephone service for weeks.

As recently as one week ago, the department said no progress had been made in the service backlog.

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