Denver, January 15, 2001 — Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE:Q), the broadband Internet communications company, today announced that customer service improved in Washington and region-wide for 2000. Qwest also announced a pro-competitive line-sharing initiative designed to broaden the availability of high-speed Internet and broadband services in the 14 Western states where Qwest provides local phone service.
"Last summer, following the acquisition of U S WEST, we made a commitment to improve service and open our markets to competition," said Joseph P. Nacchio, Qwest chairman and CEO. "We're keeping that commitment, our customers are receiving better service, and we know there is more work ahead of us."
In Washington, Qwest delivered on its promises to improve service in 2000, with several areas showing significant improvement over 1999 as noted below:
- Reduced the number of delayed orders for primary service by nearly 76 percent – from 231 in December 1999 to about 55 in December 2000;
- Installation commitments were met more than 98 percent of the time;
- Repair commitments were met about 94 percent of the time;
- Repeat repairs decreased about 5 percent;
- In 2000, nearly 84 percent of all out-of-service repair calls were fixed in less than 24 hours, up from about 61 percent in 1999. More than 99 percent were restored within two working days;
- Customer service complaints were reduced by 48 percent in 2000, compared to 1999.
"By adding more than 750 local network personnel throughout the region and nearly 80 in Washington since last July, we have taken a strong first step toward making service improvements for all of our customers," said Afshin Mohebbi, Qwest president of worldwide operations. "As we continue to invest in the network within our capital spending budget, leverage our relationships with our suppliers and implement cutting-edge technology, customers will continue to see improvement in their service and new broadband Internet communications services."
Other Washington milestones for 2000 included Qwest's Consumer Bill of Rights package, which provides customer billing credits for missed appointments and delayed order remedies. Additionally, Qwest upgraded critical E-911 systems to help safety and emergency personnel better identify callers' phone numbers. Also, to improve service to customers, a fiber route between Ocean Shores and Aberdeen was completed.
In the 14-state region where Qwest provides local service, service improvements for 2000 showed:
- Nearly 98 percent of the more than 18 million installation commitments were met when promised to the customer – the best results in the last five years;
- About 95 percent of total repair commitments were met on time as promised – the best results since 1996;
- Repeat repairs decreased more than two percent from 1999;
- More than 80 percent of service outages were repaired in less than 24 hours – up from 63 percent a year ago – the best customer service results since 1995.
The 2000 service improvements are a key part of Qwest's fast-track plan to significantly improve service by the end of 2001. Last September 7, Qwest said it plans to reduce delayed installations for service to their lowest level in the last four years. Also by the end of 2001, installation and repair results are expected to improve moving Qwest into the top quartile of providers in the industry. During this period, Qwest also expects to become best-in-class for service repair by the following day. Qwest said it expects to reduce repeat repair calls by 20 to 30 percent by the end of 2001.
Overall, Qwest committed capital investments of $9.0 billion for 2000 and $9.5 billion for 2001 to improve service, to double customers for DSL (Digital Subscriber Lines) and wireless services, to double Web hosting capacity and to expand data and Internet services.
Opening Markets to Competition
Qwest also today announced the industry's first permanent agreements for sharing its phone lines with four companies to broaden the availability of high-speed Internet and broadband services in 14 Western states. The line-sharing agreements with Contact Communications, MULTIBAND Communications Inc., New Edge Networks and NorthPoint Communications Inc. replace interim agreements Qwest signed with the four companies last April.
"These agreements reflect Qwest's ability and commitment to serve our wholesale customers, and to negotiate business-to-business agreements without incurring the cost and delay of long regulatory hearings," said Mohebbi. "This arrangement lets all of us compete effectively. The real winners here are all the individuals and businesses who want fast Internet connections and other high-speed data communications services."
Line sharing involves separating the frequencies of transmissions over the copper telephone wires that connect to customers' homes and offices, enabling conversation and data transmission over the same line simultaneously. That means Qwest's competitors can provide high-speed data connections over Qwest phone lines – even to customers who buy their local phone service from Qwest. Qwest also provides high-speed data services. The terms of these permanent line-sharing agreements are available to all competitors.
In September of 2000, Qwest announced a series of sweeping policy changes, including new wholesale products and services designed to increase competition for homes and businesses. These changes, along with wholesale agreements with McLeodUSA and Eschelon Telecom announced later in the year, may help Qwest gain swifter approval to re-institute long-distance service in 14 Western states. With its acquisition of U S WEST, June 30, 2000, Qwest must prove to regulators that its local markets are open to competitors before it can provide long-distance service to customers in the 14 states where it provides local service.
Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) is a leader in reliable, scalable and secure broadband Internet-based data, voice and image communications for businesses and consumers. The Qwest Macro Capacity® Fiber Network, designed with the newest optical networking equipment for speed and efficiency, spans more than 104,000 miles globally. For more information, please visit the Qwest web site at www.qwest.com.
This release may contain projections and other forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements may differ materially from actual future events or results. Readers are referred to the documents filed by Qwest with the Securities and Exchange Commission, specifically the most recent reports which identify important risk factors that could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, including potential fluctuations in quarterly results, volatility of Qwest's stock price, intense competition in the communications services market, changes in demand for Qwest's products and services, dependence on new product development and acceleration of the deployment of advanced new services, such as broadband data, wireless and video services, which could require substantial expenditure of financial and other resources in excess of contemplated levels, higher than anticipated employee levels, capital expenditures and operating expenses, rapid and significant changes in technology and markets, adverse changes in the regulatory or legislative environment affecting Qwest's business and delays in Qwest's ability to provide interLATA services within its 14-state local service territory, failure to maintain rights of way, and failure to achieve the projected synergies and financial results expected to result from the acquisition of U S WEST timely or at all and difficulties in combining the operations of Qwest and U S WEST. This release may include analysts' estimates and other information prepared by third parties for which Qwest assumes no responsibility. Qwest undertakes no obligation to review or confirm analysts' expectations or estimates or to release publicly any revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.
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