FairPoint rolls out old technology

Tens of thousands of FairPoint customers in Maine now have the option to become official second-class citizens on the Internet, and the company is very proud, touting the accomplishment in a press release (in PDF form here) and following it up with a cheery call from a marketing person who couldn't answer any questions.

(To be fair, she promised another person could answer my question about how many of the 31,000 FairPoint customers already had high-speed Internet through another provider, or at least already had the option of getting it through, say, Time Warner Cable. But that person, FairPoint spokesman Jeff Nevins, said he couldn't actually answer it. He was helpful in other ways, though, which we're exploring and will report more on shortly.)

But it's true — now 31,000 FairPoint customers can purchase DSL-speed Internet, which is not only slower than Time Warner Cable's RoadRunner service, but is far slower than the technology that is really the basis for all future high-speed Internet: fiber-optics. Heck, the US House of Representatives began considering a non-binding resolution calling for 100 megabit-per-second broadband speed to be universally available to all Americans by 2015.

That's the same year that FairPoint has promised it will have DSL service (3 megabits per second, according to FairPoint's release) to 90 percent of Maine households.

"This is just the beginning," promised Nevins. The company has five years to roll out DSL to more Mainers, and state telecom regulators have already promised that if FairPoint doesn't meet the five-year deadline, they can have another year, with no penalty.

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