BISMARCK, N.D., February 27, 2002 - Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), the broadband communications company, moved another step closer to offering North Dakota customers a real choice in long-distance service when the North Dakota Public Service Commission (NDPSC) issued a decision on the last of five collaborative workshop reports.
"We are pleased to receive decisions on these workshops," said Scott Macintosh, Qwest vice president of policy and law for North Dakota. "It reflects a lot of work on the part of the North Dakota Public Service Commission and it brings us close to the end of this comprehensive process."
Qwest's long-distance re-entry will save customers in North Dakota more than $17 million annually, or an average of up to $101 per residential customer, according to a study by Professor Jerry A. Hausman, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Telecommunications Economics Research Program. After Qwest is approved to re-enter the long-distance business, the company will be able to provide customers with a real competitive choice for long-distance service, as well as offer bundled services and the convenience of a single bill.
Customers in New York and Texas saved similar amounts when the local telephone company in those states got approval to compete against the big long-distance companies. A recent study concluded that the increased long-distance competition saved New York consumers more than $200 million. In the 12 months after Verizon received long-distance approval in New York, approximately 20 percent of customers switched to a Verizon long-distance plan. In Texas, more than 20 percent of local customers switched to an SBC long-distance calling plan in the first nine months the company was authorized to provide service.
A report by Consumer Action, an independent consumer non-profit organization, found that long-distance rates are increasing everywhere except in states where the local telephone provider has been approved to offer competitive long-distance services, such as Texas and New York. The study found that consumers in these states were offered rates for basic service plans that were up to 66 percent lower than the big long-distance companies' plans.
The decisions by the NDPSC address the14 federal checklist items and additional items which Qwest must demonstrate it has complied with in order to re-enter the long-distance business. The checklist items and other issues are grouped into five workshops.
Today's order on Workshop group five addressed section 272 (requirements for a separate long-distance affiliate) and general terms and conditions.
In North Dakota, decisions have now been issued on all federally mandated 14-point checklist items. They include: interconnection and collocation; unbundled network elements; poles, ducts, conduits and rights-of-way; loops; transport; switching; 911, directory assistance and operator services; white page directory listings; number administration; signaling and databases; number portability; dialing parity; resale; and reciprocal compensation.
The company is continuing to make progress toward receiving federal approval to re-enter the long-distance market in its 14 state local service area. On December 21, 2001, Qwest completed a critical and comprehensive operational support systems (OSS) test in Arizona. Qwest is also nearing completion of an OSS test covering 13 other local service states.
Qwest's actual performance in serving wholesale customers is better than Verizon's and SBC's at the time they applied, and successfully received, approval to offer long-distance services in New York, Texas, Missouri and Arkansas.
When Qwest acquired U S WEST, the company had to divest itself of its long-distance operations in the 14 western states where U S WEST provided local service. Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Qwest can re-enter the long-distance business once its application to the FCC has been approved.
Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) is a leader in reliable, scalable and secure broadband data, voice and image communications for businesses and consumers. The Qwest Macro Capacity(r) Fiber Network, designed with the newest optical networking equipment for speed and efficiency, spans more than 190,000 miles globally. For more information, please visit the Qwest Web site at www.qwest.com.
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