New England broadband provider FairPoint Communications has completed an upgrade and expansion of its network in Vermont. The expansion covers 25 towns in Vermont that will now be part of FairPoint’s 18,000 mile fiber optic network, which is the largest, fully-owned and managed fiber-based network in northern New England.
In order to finance the project, FairPoint got partial funding through Phase II of the Federal Communication Commission’s Connect America Fund (CAF) grant program. The expansion will add or improve high-speed broadband access for more than 4,500 locations throughout Vermont.
Much of the work on the project improved FairPoint’s last mile broadband capabilities in Vermont. With fiber improvements, the company says expansion towns will now qualify for speeds of up to 15 Mbps.
FairPoint’s completed work in Vermont comes shortly after the company announced a merger with Consolidated Communications, which will take over broadband and landline service in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Consolidated bought FairPoint for $1.5 billion in December. The deal effectively makes for a secondary sale of the network that FairPoint originally purchased from Verizon for $2.3 billion in 2007. The purchase of Verizon’s network in New England was a lot for FairPoint to take on and the company went into bankruptcy in 2009 as a result of its debt load. FairPoint eventually recovered but has faced worker strikes and other issues in the aftermath of its bankruptcy.
The merger is expected to be completed by mid-year.