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FairPoint Expands Broadband Service in Five Upper Valley Towns

FairPoint Communications Inc. has expanded its broadband service to more than 600 homes and businesses in the Upper Valley, the company announced last week.

The new hybrid DSL service is being connected in Bethel, Fairlee, Strafford, Thetford and Vershire.

The work is part of Vermont’s ConnectVT initiative, which Gov. Peter Shumlin is pushing to bring broadband service to the entire state by the end of 2013, said Sabina Haskell, FairPoint’s director of regional public relations.

“We’re connecting customers who have not had service before, and when we’re done, everybody will have service,” she said. “Now, these customers will be able to do video streaming” and use cloud-based applications.

FairPoint connects fiber optic lines to neighborhood hubs, which are connected to customers by the existing copper wires, Haskell said, adding that the company is using the lastest hybrid technology to provide the service.

“When we’re done, the majority, 70 percent, will have 7 Mbps speeds or better.”

Since the company took over the telephone service in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont from Verizon in 2008, FairPoint has installed 15,000 miles of fiber optic cable in the three states and 1,100 miles in Vermont, where the company has invested nearly $100 million, Haskell said.

“When we took over, 66 percent was covered by broadband, now 90 percent of our service area will have coverage,” she said.

“Our next-generation network allows us to expand broadband service into areas with no high-speed Internet access and provide enhanced services across the state,” Michael K. Smith, FairPoint’s state president for Vermont said in a news release last week.

“Broadband availability opens the doors to the world for the residents and businesses in Vermont and is fundamental to the state’s future economic growth,” he said.

FairPoint provides residential speed options up to 15Mbps in some areas, which means those customers can stream live video, play online games and upload photographs and large files, the news release says.

In Bethel, FairPoint’s broadband Internet service will reach customers along all or portions of these streets: Arnold, Birch Hill, Brink Hill, Bundy, Camp Brook, Chase, Christian Hill, Comstock, Dartt Hill, Dearing, Dunham, Mears, Olmstead, Oxbow, Paul’s Peak, Perham, Pond, Quarry, Sanders, Sargents, Stefansson, Sunrise and Wilson Hill.

In Fairlee and Thetford, FairPoint’s broadband Internet service will reach customers along all or portions of Bragg, Five Corners, Potato Hill, Quinibeck, Robinson Hill, Turnpike and Ware streets.

In Strafford and Vershire, FairPoint’s broadband Internet service will reach customers along all or portions of Ayers, Chamberlain Hill, Eagle Hollow, Eastman Cross, Fern Hill, Kingdom, Maple Hill, Middlebrook, Miller Pond, Mero, Moody Hill, Mountain Ash, Old City Falls, Parker, Parshley, Powell, Race, Private Road 5, Ricker Bridge, Sawnee Bean, Thoreau Loop, Thoreau Way, Tognacci, Twistback, Route 113, Ward and Willey roads.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based FairPoint Communications provides broadband Internet, local and long-distance telephone service in 17 states.

In Northern New England, the company has almost 453,000 access lines in Maine, about 363,500 in New Hampshire and better than 264,000 in Vermont, according to its 2012 annual report.

During last year, the company had revenues of $973 million and operating expenses of $1.16 billion for a loss of $181 million.

During the first quarter of this year, FairPoint announced a rosier financial picture with increased revenue and growth, compared with the year before.

The company’s stock is traded on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol FRP. On Friday, the stock was trading at $8.44, up 16 cents on the day and down from its 52-week high of $10.04 with a volume of more than 19,000 shares.