MINNEAPOLIS, April 14, 2000 ? In a major step toward gaining regulatory approval for their planned merger, Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), the broadband Internet communications company, and U S WEST, Inc. (NYSE: USW), a leading provider of next-generation broadband and communications services, today announced they have reached agreement with the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Minnesota Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on key service, competition and investment issues. The two Minnesota public offices have also agreed to support expeditious approval of the merger.
"This agreement demonstrates our commitment to this merger, to our customers and to strengthening Minnesota's high-tech economy," said Solomon D. Trujillo, chairman, president and CEO, U S WEST. "U S WEST and its Stinson advanced broadband operations facility in Minneapolis are key high-tech anchors for the state. This agreement will help Minnesota move forward as a high-tech leader. It will keep the state an integral part of this dynamic new merged company, which is assembling the first true end-to-end broadband network with both local touch and global reach."
The negotiated agreement includes provisions to ensure continued investment in the state's core telecommunications network, continued service improvement by the new company, and further deployment of advanced broadband services to Minnesota customers.
"We appreciate the efforts of the Minnesota Commerce Department and Attorney General, which have allowed us to reach this important agreement on issues ranging from the quality of basic service to the deployment of advanced services, including DSL," said Steve Davis, senior vice president of government affairs for Qwest. "With the support of these public offices, we are hopeful that the commission will now act promptly to approve the merger."
Commitments in the agreement include:
- Increased investments in the network, network technicians and call center employees by just over $40 million a year over four years, which will drive improved service for Minnesota customers.
- Deployment of advanced broadband services to at least 13 Minnesota cities outside Minneapolis/ St. Paul.
- Quality standards for services provided by the combined company to wholesale customers. The new company will also invest to proactively prepare telecommunications lines in Minnesota so more customers can have access to high-speed Internet and other advanced broadband services.
- Continued commitment by the combined company to serve Minnesota customers, backed by an agreement to pay penalties if the new company doesn't meet wholesale service standards over two years, and additional penalties to existing retail standards for failure to comply.
The agreement awaits review by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The merger has received all required clearances from federal agencies, pending approval of long-distance divestiture, and awaits clearance from regulators in Arizona, Minnesota, Montana, Washington, Wyoming and Utah. Colorado and Iowa have approved the merger, which is expected to close by mid-year.
The combined company, to be named Qwest Communications International Inc., will create a communications powerhouse employing about 64,000 people worldwide. U S WEST and Qwest will unite the nation's most innovative local, wireless and broadband communications firm with one of the world's most advanced fiber-optic networks and broadband Internet providers. Together, the two firms will have more than 3 million miles of deployed fiber in the U.S. and worldwide, 29 million customers and a local network that is 99.2 percent digitally switched.
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 24,500 miles in North America. In addition, KPNQwest (Nasdaq: KQIP), Qwest's European joint venture with KPN, the Dutch telecommunications company, is building and will operate a high-capacity European fiber optic, Internet-based network that will span 11,800 miles when it is completed in 2001. For more information, please visit the Qwest web site at www.qwest.com.
About U S WEST
U S WEST (NYSE: USW) is a leading broadband and communications service provider, with more than $13 billion in annual revenues. U S WEST leads the industry in deploying next-generation broadband ADSL and VDSL Internet access and data/video services; offers the nation's first and only 'one-number' advanced wireless service that integrates customers' home or business phones with their wireless PCS; and provides multimedia advertising services, including Internet and print directories. The company has nearly 2 million miles of deployed fiber in the U.S., provides local exchange services to more than 25 million customers in 14 states, and provides wireless services to more than 500,000 customers and data services to more than 800,000 customers nationally. For more information about U S WEST, go to http://www.uswest.com.
This release may contain 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 and U S WEST with the SEC, 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, dependence on new product development, rapid technological and market change, failure to maintain rights of way, financial risk management and future growth subject to risks, and adverse changes in the regulatory or legislative environment. This release may include analysts' estimates and other information prepared by third parties, for which neither Qwest nor U S WEST assumes any responsibility. Qwest and U S WEST 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.
The Qwest logo is a registered trademark of Qwest Communications International Inc. in the U.S. and certain other countries.
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