FairPoint cites fire in Net outages

Posted April 13, 2010, at 8:29 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Thousands of FairPoint Communications customers lost their Internet service for several hours Tuesday after Central Maine Power equipment overheated and damaged FairPoint’s high-speed data lines, officials said.

FairPoint customer service representatives received more than 100 calls indicating scattered Internet outages — but no phone service interruptions — across much of Maine, said spokesman Jeff Nevins.

The problem was caused by a fire on a utility pole directly outside FairPoint’s state headquarters in Portland, Nevins said. Service was restored by early afternoon.

“It’s widespread, but it’s sporadic,” Nevins said.

FairPoint, based in Charlotte, N.C., has experienced operational problems since buying Verizon Communications’ land line and Internet operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont in 2008. FairPoint is now going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

Tuesday’s outage happened after a piece of CMP equipment overheated and melted before falling off a utility pole and onto FairPoint’s fiber-optic cables, CMP spokesman John Carroll said.

FairPoint didn’t have a precise number of how many customers were left without Internet service during the outage. The company has tens of thousands of Internet access lines in Maine but does not release exact figures on a state-by-state basis, Nevins said.