Blackfoot to Expand in Idaho, Broadening Access to Its Cutting-Edge Services & Technologies

New Market Expansion Drives Blackfoot's High-Capacity Fiber Network Across 8,500 Square Miles Throughout Montana and Idaho

Marketwired

MISSOULA, MT--(Marketwire - Nov 28, 2012) -  Blackfoot Telecommunications Group (Blackfoot) today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Fremont Telcom Co. (Fremont) and Fretel Communications, LLC (Fretel), which are both part of FairPoint Communications, a publicly traded service provider headquartered in Charlotte, NC (NASDAQ: FRP).

Fremont and Fretel, collectively known as FairPoint Idaho, provide data and voice for thousands of local homes and businesses. The expanded network will bring innovative technology products and services from Blackfoot's successful IP network to the doorstep of eastern Idaho customers and nearby communities.

"We welcome the opportunity to serve our neighbor state. As a locally owned business, we understand the value of our strong customer relationships in western Montana and are eager to earn the same trust in Idaho," said Bill Squires, Blackfoot's chief executive officer.

Squires continued, "We believe the stability of our top tier IP network adds significant value to eastern Idaho. It will improve the area's ability to attract new businesses while giving owners and residents more service options to meet their growing communications needs. Through our advanced wireless and fiber connectivity, Blackfoot can offer a new world of more competitive products and services to the region."

This expansion is part of the company's "Smart Growth" initiative and is the shared vision between Blackfoot's board of trustees and Blackfoot's executive team to become the region's technology leader.

Overall, the acquisition adds 5,400 business and residential customers to Blackfoot's growing network, boosting its high-capacity fiber backbone by 25 percent across 8,500 square miles in both states. It also includes a minority investment in Syringa Networks, LLC, which is a rapidly growing fiber transport and related services business.

The sale is expected to close in early 2013, pending approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The process of integrating employees as well as Fremont and Fretel customers into the Blackfoot family of companies will begin immediately thereafter.

Currently, Fretel serves Idaho Falls, the largest city in eastern Idaho, and Rexburg, which is home to Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYU-I) formerly known as Rick's College, the largest private university in the state. Fremont serves St. Anthony, Teton, Ashton and Island Park. Using its fiber-based strategy, Blackfoot will also seek expansion opportunities south to Pocatello, Idaho's fifth largest city.

Tom Eggensperger, Blackfoot's board president, said, "Blackfoot has been a cornerstone in western Montana since 1954. As board president, I'm pleased with Blackfoot's progress as an innovative leader. As a cooperative resident and business owner, I believe these new neighboring communities will appreciate Blackfoot's solid reputation and outstanding commitment as a community friend and supporter."

Joel Block, Blackfoot's vice president of customer care and marketing added, "For eight consecutive years, Blackfoot has earned stellar customer satisfaction ratings for both its residential and business services. We're a high-tech, high-touch company and take pride in maintaining an unparalleled customer care group and one of the largest teams of technical support experts in the region."

This acquisition is Blackfoot's third smart growth initiative this year. In early 2012, Blackfoot purchased Modwest, a local web hosting company, and is currently acquiring Cutthroat Communications, a communications services provider offering wireless and fiber optic technologies, which is expected to close by the end of 2012. Another thriving expansion occurred in the late 1990s when Blackfoot purchased nine rural exchanges from U.S. West, Inc. (now CenturyLink). Within two years, Blackfoot fully upgraded all outdated U.S. West systems, bringing the most advanced communications services to rural businesses and consumers in Western Montana.

"We're pleased to be in a position to build on the success of these past acquisitions which enables us to offer our exceptional products and services to our neighbors in eastern Idaho," said Squires.

Blackfoot Telecommunications Group (Blackfoot) offers advanced telecommunications solutions to customers in Western Montana including voice, data, IT and security services. Named after the Blackfoot River running through much of the territory it serves, Blackfoot was originally established in 1954 as Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative and is headquartered in Missoula, Montana. Today, the Blackfoot family of companies include Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative -- a member-owned cooperative; Blackfoot Communications -- a competitive local exchange company; and TeleSphere Software, Inc. a wholly-owned subsidiary offering professional services to the telecom industry. Read about Blackfoot products and services at www.blackfoot.com. Learn about Blackfoot in our communities on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BlackfootTelecomm.  

FairPoint Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: FRP) is a leading communications provider of broadband Internet access, local and long-distance phone, television and other high-capacity data services to customers in communities across 17 states. Additional information about FairPoint products and services is available at www.FairPoint.com. You can also connect with FairPoint on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/fairpoint) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/myfairpoint).

Contact:
Company Contact - For General Questions
Joel Block
VP of Customer Care & Marketing
Blackfoot Telecommunications Group
V: 406-541-5400
M: 406-532-5400
Email Contact

Press Contact - For Media Questions
Lucy Beighle
Media Relations
Lucy Beighle Consulting
V: 406-239-3193
Email Contact

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