FairPoint to sell pay-phone business

FairPoint Communications Inc. has agreed to sell its pay-phone business in New England to Pacific Telemanagement Services.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

FairPoint operates about 4,000 pay phones in the northeastern part of the country. The business accounts for about $1 million in annual revenue and is becoming increasingly unprofitable. “Pay phones have seen dramatic decreases in usage over the last decade and the trend is likely to continue,” Ajay Sabherwal, FairPoint executive vice president and chief financial officer, says in a company press release. “We believe we can best deploy our resources to focus on our core lines of business including bringing more broadband service to northern New England.”

Independent pay-phone service providers such as California-based PTS operate 90 percent of the 500,000 payphones still in use in the United States.

FairPoint and PTS expect the deal will close later this year.

FairPoint (NASDAQ:FRP) announced in September that it would cut 400 jobs, most of them in the New England area.

The Charlotte-based communications-services provider reported steep losses last year, posting a loss of $404.9 million, or $16.06 per diluted share, for the 341 days following its exit from
bankruptcy in January 2011. Its revenue totaled $963.1 million for that period.

FairPoint provides high-speed Internet access, local and long-distance phone, television and other broadband services in 18 states.

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