OMAHA, Neb., January 28, 2002 - Qwest Communications International Inc. today announced that it is withdrawing its plans to share private customer account information among different divisions in the company. Citing customer concerns, the company said a decision on when and how it might share information within Qwest would be made after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has an opportunity to issue new rules, expected later this year.
"When many of our customers tell us that they're concerned or don't understand what we're doing, it's time to stop the process and make a change," said Qwest Chairman and CEO Joseph P. Nacchio. "Qwest takes seriously its obligations regarding privacy policies and procedures. We've worked hard and invested billions of dollars to improve service and our customers' perceptions about the value we provide them. We will not allow misunderstandings to unravel all the good we've done or minimize our best service results in more than seven years."
Nacchio also announced David J. Heller as chief privacy officer. Heller is currently vice president of risk management. He will oversee the review, improvement and enforcement of the company's privacy policies and procedures.
Qwest is the first company in the telecom industry to announce that it will not share private customer account information inside its company until the FCC has had an opportunity to issue new rules on the process. Qwest intends to notify its approximately 12 million local-service customers to explain that the company has withdrawn its plans to share private customer account information within the company.
Qwest had notified its customers last December and in early January that it intended to begin sharing private customer account information among different divisions in the company to design and offer new or different services to its customers in the future. The notice did not change the company's long-standing policy that it does not and would not sell or disclose private customer account information to other companies or individuals for their own marketing purposes.
The FCC began a rule-making process regarding the sharing of private customer account information in September 2001. The company expects the FCC to issue a ruling later this year.
Since issuing its customer notice, Qwest has received input from policymakers including Nebraska Attorney General Don Stenberg, Public Service Commission Chair Anne Boyle, Commissioner Frank Landis, and Commissioner Jerry Vap to address customer concerns over the sharing of their account information.
"We take great care to safeguard customer information," said Tim Sandos, Qwest vice president of policy and law for Nebraska. "Employee access to proprietary information is limited to those who need it to serve our customers. The bottom line is that we're serious about earning and maintaining the trust of our customers."
Focus on Service
Qwest has invested $1.8 billion to improve service in its 14-state region since acquiring U S WEST 19 months ago. The FCC has recognized that investment and the employee work as leading the telecommunications industry.
Last week, Qwest reported its second year of service improvement. Qwest cited strong customer service improvements in 2001 in five key areas of installation and repair for residential and small-business customers in Nebraska:
- Nearly 99 percent of customer installation commitments were met on time - the best annual results in six years;
- Repair commitments were met nearly 96 percent of the time - the best results in six years;
- Repeat repairs decreased by nearly 21 percent from a year ago;
- Qwest repaired nearly 88 percent of all service outages in Nebraska in 24 hours or less - an improvement of more than five percent over the same time a year ago - the best annual results in seven years;
- At the end of December 2001, no customer in Nebraska waited more than 30 days for the installation of the first telephone line.
The FCC report declared that Qwest leads the industry in service quality. In December 2001, the FCC issued its "Quality of Service of the Local Operating Companies" report, which showed that Qwest was first among the major local service providers in four of the seven critical customer service categories measured by the FCC and that Qwest improved in six of the seven.
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.
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 Communications International Inc. (together with its affiliates, "Qwest", "we" or "us") 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 but not limited to: potential fluctuations in quarterly results; volatility of Qwest's stock price; intense competition in the markets in which we compete; changes in demand for our products and services; the duration and extent of the current economic downturn, including its effect on our customers and suppliers; adverse economic conditions in the markets served by us or by companies in which we have substantial investments; 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 our business, delays in our ability to provide interLATA services within our 14-state local service area; 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, and difficulties in combining the operations of the combined company. This release may include analysts' estimates and other information prepared by third parties for which we assume no responsibility. We undertake 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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