AUGUSTA (AP) – Continuing 911 problems and FairPoint Communications’ decision to delay its full takeover of Verizon’s land lines have some of Maine’s lawmakers on edge.

Gov. John Baldacci said he remains confident FairPoint is up to the task of providing telephone service in Maine once initial glitches are overcome, but some state lawmakers already are planning a legislative investigation of the 911 deficiencies.

North Carolina-based FairPoint Communications announced this week that it’s pushing back its so-called “cutover date” in September by two months. That follows a series of 911 problems in Cumberland and Penobscot counties from April 17 through June 15.

The Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee has scheduled a meeting next month to examine recent 911 problems.

“I’m not comforted by the reassurances I’ve been hearing from the Public Utilities Commission and FairPoint, and this (delay) just adds to it,” said Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, a co-chairman of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

The transition from Verizon to FairPoint “is going downhill – it’s not going uphill,” added Rep. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, the other committee co-chairman.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission “maybe anticipated that everything would not go 100 percent smoothly” during the transition, so agency staffers and an outside contractor hired by Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are closely monitoring the switch, said PUC spokesman Fred Bever.

That contractor, the Liberty Consulting Group of Pennsylvania, provides monthly reports and the PUC is “satisfied that FairPoint is responding appropriately,” Bever said.

Baldacci, for his part, is counseling patience. At this stage, Baldacci said, “it’s better for FairPoint to slow down and get it right.”

Recent glitches in emergency dispatching “erode the confidence in the overall system,” but backup systems are in place to ensure emergency calls get through, Baldacci said.

And if FairPoint fails to live up to its expectations, the state PUC, which approved the sale, can reopen its review, the governor said.


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