MINNEAPOLIS, April 24, 2001 ? Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE:Q) today called AT&T?s plan for more government regulation of Qwest?s wholesale and retail operations in Minnesota a desperate attempt to keep long-distance prices high and prevent Qwest from getting approval to re-enter the long-distance business. Since its acquisition of U S WEST, Qwest has never received a complaint from AT&T in Minnesota about the local services it purchases.
?It?s no surprise that as we get closer to getting into the long-distance business, AT&T is trotting out a new scheme to delay that from happening,? said John Stanoch, Minnesota vice president of policy and law. ?This latest scheme is simply a diversionary tactic that ultimately hurts consumers. Minnesotans should see this for what it is.?
AT&T is asking the Minnesota legislature to impose unreasonable ?structural separation,? a regulatory method to break the company into two separate operations, one to serve consumers and businesses and the other to address wholesale customers. AT&T has pressed for structural separation conditions in several states across the nation. In March, regulators in Pennsylvania rejected AT&T?s structural separation proposal after more than two years of studying the issue. AT&T has also supported failed structural separation campaigns in Maryland and Florida.
?AT&T has seen in New York and Texas how real long-distance competition impacts their business,? said Stanoch. ?It?s obvious from today?s announcement that they?re willing to do anything to stop that from happening here in Minnesota.?
Stanoch continued, ?Local markets in Minnesota are open and competition is growing every day. There are 45 companies competing with Qwest here in Minnesota. They?ve taken hundreds of thousands of our customers and each day their capturing more and more market share. Not once since we acquired U S WEST last summer has AT&T complained about the services necessary for it to compete here in Minnesota. Yet here they are calling for the most radical solution to a non-existent problem.?
Following are facts on local competition in Qwest?s territory in Minnesota:
- The Minnesota Commission has approved 124 interconnection agreements between Qwest and competitors.
- Minnesota competitors have access to almost 1.9 million of Qwest?s 2.4 million Minnesota customers ? 87% Qwest?s Minnesota customers ? via the equipment they?ve co-located in Qwest?s central offices. In Minnesota, 37 CLECs are co-locating their equipment at 571 sites in 80 central offices.
- Qwest has processed 130,321 Minnesota competitors? order requests in the past 12 months.
- Qwest has ?ported? 355,426 numbers in Minnesota ? each line ported represents the conversion of an existing line from Qwest to a facilities-based competitor.
- In January 2001 alone, almost 722 million minutes of traffic was passed between Qwest?s customers and competitors? customers over competitors? facilities in Minnesota.
On April 10, Qwest announced that it had achieved two significant milestones in its efforts to reenter the long-distance business in 14 Western states. First, region-wide independent testing of Qwest?s operational support systems (OSS) has begun. In addition, the company has completed three-quarters of the state workshop sessions that evaluate Qwest?s compliance with rules to reenter the long-distance business. Fundamentally, Qwest said that it is on target to file its first application with the FCC this summer to reenter the long-distance business in one of the states in its local service area and to file applications for other states later this year and early next year.
Qwest also criticized AT&T for pressing for legislation so late in Minnesota's legislative session. The session is set to adjourn on May 21 and all three committee deadlines for bill consideration have already passed. "This is a public relations ploy pure and simple,? said Stanoch. ?It has no chance of gaining a committee hearing, much less passing this session.?
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