Consumers have other options for service
Thousands of complaints flow to the Public Utilities Commission each year. As a regulator of basic phone service, the commission has been able to use its authority to address concerns about such things as service quality, pricing, marketing practices, disconnect notices and deposit requirements.
Complaints peaked in 2009 during the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of FairPoint Communications, 18 months after it spent $2.3 billion to acquire Verizon's landline and Internet operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Complaints have been declining ever since, Howland said.
That's where the complaints should be resolved, said FairPoint Director of Government Relations Ellen Scarponi. When there was only one telephone provider and consumers had nowhere else to go, PUC oversight made sense, she said. But now, a consumer unhappy with the response from one telecommunication provider can simply shop elsewhere. That creates a strong incentive for the company to resolve the complaint, Scarponi said.
"Competition is robust in New Hampshire," he said. "The regulatory playing field needs to be evened out so that all carriers are regulated equally in a manner that reflects current market conditions, not the old Ma Bell monopolistic era that has long since disappeared."
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