Fairpoint-Verizon deal would be in state’s best interest

Published: Sunday, November 25, 2007, Nashua Telegraph

Much has been said in recent months about the potential
acquisition of Verizon’s landlines in northern New England by Fairpoint Communications.

This acquisition is one of the most important developments to occur in New Hampshire within recent history, and the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce believes it will significantly improve the ability of our state’s business community to operate in the new global economy.

Verizon has long been a good friend to many of us in southern New Hampshire. However, Verizon has recently made it clear it has no intention of continuing business in our state through its landlines.

Their strategic plan calls for them to sell their operations in New Hampshire and focus their resources elsewhere. This is a fact that cannot be changed. Because Verizon is a private business, we cannot force Verizon to expand its services in our state.

This development provides us an opportunity to introduce a new business partner into New Hampshire with a different strategic plan that can benefit many of our communities and businesses.

Fairpoint Communications has repeatedly stated its commitment to expanding DSL services throughout New Hampshire, most of which is still operating on dial-up service or no service at all. This expansion of services will allow the rest of our state to enjoy the benefits of high-speed connection that many of us already enjoy in southern New Hampshire.

Consider the fact that, on one hand, we have a company that has clearly told us it has no intention of expanding any service and in fact wishes to divest its currently owned landlines.

On the other hand, we have a company dedicated to expanding high-speed service to the communities that need it most and have been crying out for this service for years.

The choice is clear.

Why does the Nashua chamber care about this issue?

We recognize that we live in an increasingly shrinking world, where successful companies must compete in a global economy where competitors are no longer the company down the street, but are now the company across the ocean.

Those businesses down the street and in our neighboring communities have now become our business partners, suppliers, vendors, clients, etc. Pooling our resources within our region and within our state allows our collective business community and our cities to be more competitive than any individual business or community could be on its own.

However, the ability of our companies in southern New Hampshire to do more business with those in the northern and western part of our state is inhibited by the fact that those regions are still operating on dial-up service or no service at all.

Fairpoint Communications represents the agent of change that can put all of our state on a more equal playing field. From a practical perspective and from a business perspective, this is far better than the current conditions forcing businesses in northern and western New Hampshire to operate with dial-up service.

Perhaps you have recently seen roadside signs or heard radio ads claiming that Fairpoint Communications will take New Hampshire off the information superhighway. Nothing could be more misleading.

The fact is that significant portions of our state are actually sitting in the ditch, unable to get on that superhighway because of the limited service currently available to them. Staying with Verizon will only sustain this state of affairs, a fact it has made very clear.

Moving forward with Fairpoint, on the other hand, will allow all of our state to get out of the ditch and onto the highway. Clearly, such a move is in the best interest of our entire state and should therefore be supported by all of us.

My hope is that the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission will move expeditiously to approve this transaction.

Christopher Williams is president and chief executive officer of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.