WINDOW ROCK, Ariz., December 27, 2001 ? Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE:Q), the broadband communications company, and the Navajo Nation signed an agreement today providing for new and upgraded telecommunications infrastructure to 14 Navajo chapters and the Fort Wingate exchange property. The agreement is for fiber optic services to four Navajo chapters south of Gallup, in collaboration with Century Telecommunications and the Zuni Pueblo.
?The Navajo Nation commends Qwest for providing telephone services to these homes in the eastern portion of the Navajo Nation,? said President of the Navajo Nation, Kelsey A. Begaye. ?We are pleased to work with all the entities on this endeavor, and we look forward to more work with Qwest and the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) as the Navajo Nation establishes its own telecommunications commission.?
?The formal signing ceremony marks the beginning of a comprehensive strategic service plan enabled by Qwest?s $788 million investment under the Alternative Form of Regulation plan,? said John Badal, Qwest vice president of policy and law for New Mexico. ?And it is further proof of Qwest?s commitment to all residents of New Mexico.?
?This is the product of a new level of cooperation between Qwest and many entities within the Navajo Nation,? said New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner Linda Lovejoy, ?This ambitious partnership will finally extend basic telecommunications services to hundreds of Navajo households who have never had telephone service and will help the Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo's opportunities at the Ft. Wingate business park.? A joint implementation team has been formed which is headed by Ken Peterson, director of utilities and communications for the Navajo Nation, and Joseph Martinez, state right of way manager for Qwest.
The agreement, which was signed during a ceremony at the Navajo Nation Inn, and attended by several Navajo Nation Chapter officials and oversight committee members, will begin with the placement of a high speed fiber optic cable from Bloomfield, New Mexico to the Huerfano and Nageezi Chapters. Projects extending facilities to Navajo Nation Chapters of Huerfano, Nageezi, Baca, Iyanbito, Manuelito, Thoreau, Churchrock, Tsayatoh, Nenahnezad, Rock Springs, Pinedale, Upper Fruitland, and Red Rock, all within Qwest service territory, will eliminate service orders that have been held for years.
This portion of the service line agreement will reach a total of 300 customers whose service requests have been held, and will accommodate several hundred more who have never had the opportunity for telephone service.
Chapter House Liaisons will be employed by Qwest to assist customers among the 14 chapters to enroll in the Federal Communications Commission's Tribal Lifeline and Tribal Linkup plans, which offer Native Americans an affordable basic telephone rate based on income level. Liaisons will also assist Qwest as interpreters during the installation of the fiber cable.
A second segment of the project involves an extension of fiber optic cabling and modifications to the network central office within Ft. Wingate Business Park, property handed over by the federal government to the Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo, which is being developed as a commercial center. The telecommunications enhancements will enable the Ft. Wingate property to attract companies and individuals who have the same telecommunications needs as those in any large city.
A third segment of the agreement consists of proposals to collaborate with Century Communications and Citizens/Navajo Communications to improve and expand telecommunications services to the areas north and south of Gallup. Improvements would include a new fiber optic facility from Gallup to Zuni Pueblo and four chapters south of Gallup. Additionally, a new fiber optic connection from Kirtland to Shiprock has been proposed. These proposals could provide long term telephone, data, and Internet capabilities to the Navajo Nation.
The agreement is viewed as a landmark understanding between a telecommunications company and a Native American tribe in that it recognizes a service line agreement process, as opposed to an easement process, within the Navajo Nation. In this manner, many months, if not years, of local and federal governmental requirements were eliminated by use of the service line agreement. The Navajo Nation made major contributions in waiving easement compensation and easing home site lease requirements to make this service plan a reality.
The Navajo Nation resolution also contains landmark support for Qwest's re-entry into long-distance. Qwest's re-entry into the long-distance business will directly benefit numerous tribal members living on the Arizona and New Mexico border.
Once these projects are completed, the Navajo Nation will be firmly linked to the rest of the state's telecommunications network. The Navajo Nation will have the technology building blocks of telecommunications, data transport, and Internet services for its members.
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® 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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