Vermont’s first experience with alternative regulation was in the telecommunications sector. Within this sector, only Consolidated Communications and its predecessors (including New England Telephone, Verizon, and FairPoint) have been under alternative regulation in Vermont. In 1988, the Commission approved a form of alternative regulation known as the Vermont Telecommunications Agreement that applied to New England Telephone and lasted mid-way through the 1990s. In 2000, the Commission approved a new five-year Incentive Regulation Plan for New England Telephone. A successor alternative regulation plan was approved in 2005 that continued many of the elements of the initial plan and encouraged broadband development.
On June 26, 2017, the Commission approved the sale of FairPoint's Vermont landline telecommunications business to Consolidated Communications. (See Docket 8881 for more information about this sale.) As a condition of the sale, Consolidated Communications became subject to the terms and conditions of FairPoint's Incentive Regulation Plan.
Consolidated Communications has continued to operate under the alternative regulation plans. Consolidated Communications was subject to the 2015-2019 Incentive Regulation Plan, approved March 18, 2016, in Docket 8337, through January 1, 2023.
On November 16, 2022, in Case No. 21-4060-PET, the Commission approved a new alternative regulation plan for Consolidated Communications, which became effective on January 1, 2023. Due to continuing increases in competition in basic telephone service, the new alternative regulation plan ends rate regulation for Consolidated Communications' basic and business local exchange service in municipalities where sufficient competitive alternatives are available to consumers. Municipalities that do not have sufficient competitive alternatives, as measured by criteria specified in the plan, continue to be rate regulated under terms similar to the 2015-2019 Incentive Regulation Plan. This plan will remain in effect for a period of three years.