SIOUX FALLS, S.D., October 24, 2001 ? Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), the broadband communications company, will move another step closer to offering South Dakota customers a real choice in long-distance service when it provides the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) a complete overview of the application it will send in early 2002 to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to re-enter the long-distance business.
With the local market irrevocably open to competition, Qwest?s action represents a major milestone in the process to offer long-distance service to residential and business customers in South Dakota.
?The local telephone network in South Dakota is open to competitors and now it?s time for consumers in this state to benefit from real long-distance competition,? said Larry Toll, Qwest vice president of policy and law for South Dakota. ?The FCC will ultimately rule on Qwest?s application to begin offering long-distance service in South Dakota, but our state PUC can help influence that decision with a strong endorsement of our filing.?
A study by Professor Jerry A. Hausman, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Telecommunications Economics Research Program, found that South Dakota residents could save more than $16 million annually in local and long-distance charges once Qwest is allowed to re-enter the long-distance market. According to the study, Qwest?s re-entry will save residential and business customers in-region well over $1 billion annually. After Qwest is approved to re-enter the long-distance business, the company will be able to provide customers with another competitive choice for long-distance service, as well as offer bundled services and the convenience of a single bill.
Thursday?s filing with the PUC is a precursor to Qwest?s federal filing with the FCC and consists of the documentation detailing Qwest?s efforts to open its markets to South Dakota competitors. It includes the formal petition for commission recommendation, a statement of generally available terms and conditions (SGAT) which details the services and functions Qwest makes available to competing carriers. It also includes affidavits from witnesses regarding compliance with various legal requirements, as well as the latest wholesale service performance data.
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 when it satisfies a 14-point federal checklist for each state. Satisfying those checklist items ensures competitors have access to Qwest?s network and fosters competition in the local market.
Toll said the company plans on filing its long-distance re-entry application with the FCC early in 2002 following the PUC review and after ongoing systems tests, in which the South Dakota PUC is participating, are completed. ?We hope to provide South Dakotans with long-distance services by next summer,? said Toll.
Local service competition is robust in South Dakota:
- Nearly 70% of Qwest?s approximately 300,000 South Dakota customers have easy access to a competing service provider, either through collocation or facilities-based companies.
- The South Dakota commission has approved 34 interconnection agreements between Qwest and competitors.
- Qwest has processed more than 22,000 South Dakota competitors? order requests in the past 12 months.
- Qwest has ?ported? nearly 23,000 numbers in South Dakota ? each line ported represents the conversion of an existing line from Qwest to a facilities-based competitor.
- In August 2001 alone, more than 53 million minutes of traffic was passed between Qwest?s customers and competitors? customers over competitors? facilities in South Dakota.
?South Dakota customers are closer to getting real choice and lower long-distance rates,? said Steve Davis, Qwest senior vice president for policy and law. ?Qwest has spent billions of dollars to open its network to competitors, and dedicated thousands of employees to meeting the needs of wholesale customers.?
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 113,000 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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