Adelphia Inks Accord in Vermont

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Adelphia Communications Corp. and the Vermont Department of Public Service reached an agreement that should end years of sparring and lead to about 1,500 miles of plant extensions sought by the state.

Under terms of the settlement, Adelphia must meet annual mileage requirements for extending its upgraded plant by 1,500 miles to rural areas by December 2009. That amount will include up to 300 miles in Vermont's most sparsely populated areas. Adelphia will build these unprofitable areas in lieu of customer-service fines that could have topped $2.2 million

"This settlement gives Adelphia the opportunity to fulfill its commitment to the state of Vermont, to our employees, and most importantly to our current and future customers," said Mary McLaughlin, vice president, law and external affairs for Adelphia's northeast region. The company, the dominant state operator, will spend $40 million on buildout.

Adelphia won refranchises for its systems throughout the state in 2000, in part because it promised it would rebuild all but the smallest communities, such as Newport, to 750-Megahertz plant. But in 2002, it petitioned for relief from its obligations, stating that extensions to some small communities are now commercially impractical. The state countered that the build was now impractical because Adelphia stalled for so long that installation prices had risen.

"This agreement brings cable and broadband service to about 20,000 rural Vermont households," said DPS commissioner David O'Brien in a prepared statement, adding the homes would receive no services if the state hadn't come to the Nov. 20 agreement with Adelphia.

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