Political Chowder features segment on Verizon-FairPoint deal

This week's episode of Political Chowder--an hour-long political talk show in New Hampshire--featured a panel discussion on the Verizon-FairPoint deal.

The panel included New Hampshire consumer advocate Meredith Hatfield, state Public Utilities Commission economist Steve Merrill, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) spokesman Glenn Brackett.

Click here to watch the full episode (the Verizon-FairPoint segment begins at 35:20).

The discussion touched on all the aspects of the deal, from the risks to jobs and pensions to FairPoint's ability to invest in better and expanded service to rural residents. The panelists all expressed skepticism at FairPoint's ability to protect the rights of workers and consumers in Northern New England because of the company's troubling financial status.

As IBEW's Brackett noted,

"FairPoint's credit rating with Standard & Poor's today is DD-minus, which is basically junk bond status. I don’t know how they're going to cut the costs to make their dividend payments… I can't see how they're going to put any of this money back into the network."

Overall, the panelists agreed that the future of telecommunications in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont is far too important to leave in the hands of a small, indebted company like FairPoint. Brackett explained,

"Whatever technology we put in today in this state, be it DSL, FiOS, dial-up, whatever it is today that we have with a highly capitalized overleveraged company, we're going to own. We're not going to upgrade. This is going to be it for New Hampshire."

The point? It’s not fair (Speed Matters)

Political Chowder -- June 17, 2006