Qwest long distance application approved
Qwest Communications International received approval Monday from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to re-enter the long-distance market in nine western states.
The Denver-based telecommunications carrier will begin taking orders in Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming by mid-January. Qwest now provides local service to nine million customer lines in those states. Qwest plans to apply for long-distance in Arizona, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon and South Dakota in early 2003.
Qwest officers said the decision proves that their markets are open to competition as required by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 for the former Baby Bells to operate in the long-distance markets.
Qwest said it spent more than $3 billion to open its local markets to competitors and comply with the law. Adding long-distance service is seen as an important step in the survival and expansion plans of regional telecoms. Last week, SBC Communications also convinced FCC officials that it should be allowed to sell long-distance in California.
Many competitors, especially small competitors such as Internet service providers and Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs), have long complained that Qwest stifles competition by not living up to the spirit of the Telecom Act of 1996, if not violating the letter of the law as well. They have contended that Qwest should not be allowed into the lucrative long-distance business until it fully complies.