BANGOR, Maine — Mid-Maine Communications, a division of the communications provider Otelco Inc., has merged with Country Road Communications and its subsidiaries, including Pine Tree Networks of southern Maine.

On Aug. 7, 2008, Otelco entered into a stock purchase agreement with Country Road Communications LLC. When the agreement was completed on Oct. 31, Otelco acquired three subsidiaries of Country Road: Granby Holdings Inc. of Massachusetts, War Telephone Inc. of West Virginia and Pine Tree Networks of Maine. Shortly after the acquisition was completed, Otelco moved forward with its plans to combine Country Road and Mid-Maine.

“The merger will create benefits for both the company as well as the customers,” said Curtis Garner, chief financial officer of Otelco. “We will now have a broader footprint to serve customers in New England, as well as additional switching capacity.”

Before the merger, Mid-Maine Communications functioned as an independent local exchange company serving the rural areas around Greater Bangor and a competitive local exchange carrier for businesses. Pine Tree Networks offered similar telecommunications services for customers in Greater Portland and the Lewiston-Auburn area. Uniting the two companies creates a cohesive service area spanning much of the state, according to Nick Winchester, senior vice president of Otelco.

“The union brings together two of the most unique networks that you can have from a competitive standpoint,” said Winchester. “The two companies have unique product sets and unique networks. When combined you create a very robust product offering and a very strong combined network, one that’s stronger and more diverse than the networks of the individual companies.”

Mid-Maine customers can expect positive changes from the merger, including improvements in delivery, availability and diversity of products, Winchester said. Access to more IP-based services is expected.

“Product offerings and services will continue to grow and evolve from this point,” Winchester said. “The combination of the two makes for a stronger, healthier organization, particularly when there’s a slowdown of the economy and the industry itself is challenged with competition. The company post-integration will have a greater ability to sustain itself and grow and thrive in tough times, which is one of the reasons why the acquisition was so attractive.”

The merger will mean employee cutbacks for both service areas as the two organizations consolidate their resources, but Winchester said the merger will mean increased job security for the employees retained.

“The larger company will provide a good platform for stability in employment,” he said. “Natural synergies will present themselves, as in any integration. Our goal and intent is to create the strongest company both financially and from a service and delivery standpoint. The benefits for the employees will be very similar to the benefits for the consumers.”