Consolidated's FairPoint acquisition gets Vermont regulatory approval, sets new consumer, business service plans

Consolidated has received a green light from Vermont regulators to proceed with its pending acquisition of FairPoint, clearing another hurdle to complete a deal that will enhance its network reach across Northern New England and several other states.

As it proceeds with acquiring FairPoint, Consolidated plans to continue an initiative FairPoint started to expand and improve broadband availability across its Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine service territories in Northern New England.

In addition, Consolidated said it will roll out a number of other new services.

"In the near term, we will begin rolling out new consumer products," said Michael Shultz, VP of Consolidated, in a AP report.

RELATED: Consolidated to commit $52M to upgrade Maine networks after completing FairPoint deal

While the telco did not provide a specific timeline, Consoldiated plans to offer consumers in Northern New England a new set of home automation, home security and video products.

Consolidated will also expand its portfolio of IP and cloud services to local businesses.

Besides in Vermont, utility regulators in Maine and New Hampshire also approved the acquisition.

Jennifer Spaude, a Consolidated spokeswoman, said Illinois regulators are expected to approve the deal on Wednesday. At that time, Consolidated will reveal additional details of its post-FairPoint-acquisition plans. Upon completing the deal, Consolidated will operate in 24 states.

In May, Maine regulators were the first to approve the acquisition. Consolidated told regulators at that time it would spend $52.2 million to make network upgrades in Maine.

The service provider has laid out a three-year investment plan mandated by the state’s public advocate.

Specifically, Consolidated will make $17.4 million of annual investments for three years beginning 2018, with an aim to expand and upgrade broadband networks. Additionally, a so-called "stipulation" confirms that the service provider will leave existing agreements with other regulated carriers intact for at least three years.

Following its acquisition of Verizon’s wireline assets in 2008, FairPoint’s foray into the Northern New England region was anything but smooth. The service provider saw a host of issues, including debt, ongoing wireline voice declines and customer service issues before filing for bankruptcy protection, which it came out of in 2011.

More recently, FairPoint had suffered a four-month union worker strike that stretched from late 2014 and early 2015.