PORTLAND (AP) – FairPoint Communications saw its number of phone access lines fall a relatively modest 1.8 percent in northern New England in the first three months of the year even as subscribers experienced customer service, billing and e-mail problems.

In its quarterly earnings report Tuesday, FairPoint said the number of residential and business access lines in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont fell by 20,315, to just under 1.1 million.

The losses came as thousands of customers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont reported problems after FairPoint switched over from Verizon’s computer systems. FairPoint last year paid $2.3 billion for Verizon’s land lines in the three states.

For the quarter, FairPoint reported that it lost $8.8 million on $311.6 million in revenue.

North Carolina-based FairPoint operates phone companies in 18 states, with most of its access lines in northern New England.

Other telecommunications companies have also been seeing a decline in access lines as customers switch to cell phones and get rid of secondary phone lines.

Verizon Communications reported last week that its number of wired residential and business access lines dropped 2.6 percent in the first three months of the year, to just under 35 million. Quest Communications reported that its number of wired access lines dropped by 3 percent for the first three months, to about 7.5 million.

CenturyTel Inc. of Monroe, La., which is similar in size to FairPoint, reported last week that its number of access lines fell 1.5 percent in the first three months of the year.

AP-ES-05-05-09 1823EDT


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