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Court deals blow to Qwest attempts to avoid fees
The Arizona Republic
Saturday, January 21, 2006

PHOENIX (AP) -- A federal appellate court rejected Qwest Communications' argument that right-of-way fees assessed by Tucson and three other Arizona cities were unlawful and should be eliminated.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision represents the latest defeat in Qwest's years-long effort to avoid paying the annual fees for the right to use its lines and cables across Arizona cities and towns.

Company officials described the court's recent decision as a setback for consumers because the fees are passed directly to Qwest customers in Tucson, Globe, Miami and Nogales.

"This ruling turns out to be a defeat for consumers," company spokesman Jeff Mirasola said.  "There are millions of dollars in question.  We don't believe the fee should be levied.  We are considering what further action to take to best protect our customers."

Qwest has paid more than $20 million in fees to the four cities since 2001.

No two ordinances are identical, but the fees range from 2 percent to 5 percent of the company's gross revenue derived from services offered to residents and businesses.

Tucson, for instance, assesses a 2 percent charge on all telecommunications providers and an additional 1.5 percent for right-of-way users such as Qwest.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

http://www.azdailysun.com/non_sec/nav_includes/story.cfm?storyID=123406