CHICAGO (AP) – An international credit rating agency has lowered its outlook for FairPoint Communications Inc. from stable to negative because it has lost an unexpected number of access lines and customers.

Fitch Ratings also cut other company ratings, lowering it one notch further into junk status.

FairPoint has lost an unexpected number of access lines since it agreed to take over Verizon’s land lines in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The company has also lost more than 80,000 customers since paying $2.3 billion for Verizon’s northern New England wired telephone and Internet business.

FairPoint Chief Executive Gene Johnson said earlier this month the company remains confident it will win back old customers and lure new ones after it takes total control of the Verizon system on Jan. 31.

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