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The Denver-based phone company has called for cost estimates
from vendors on switching from copper to a fiber-optic
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Monday, January 8, 2007
Qwest is quietly taking steps toward a major upgrade of its
network that would ultimately allow the company to offer its
own video service on a broader scale.
The Denver-based phone company has solicited cost estimates
from vendors on upgrading its copper telecommunications
network to a fiber-optic cable infrastructure.
Qwest issued a request for proposals in November, seeking
deployment as early as June, according to business
consultant Kermit Ross, who has seen the RFP. He said the
contracts could be worth more than a billion dollars over
"It's time for Qwest to be looking at their network in a
broad and general way and how to take it into the future,
and this is a manifestation of that," said Ross, principal
of Frisco, Texas-based Millennium Marketing, a consulting
firm that helps equipment vendors secure contracts from
Qwest declined comment about the RFP, which was first
reported by online trade publication Light Reading.
"Qwest is always looking to upgrade and evolve the
technology we have in place," said company spokesman Jon
Lentz added, "Qwest wouldn't discuss or confirm specifics of
Qwest is the only Baby Bell that hasn't launched a major
upgrade of its network. Verizon is spending $18 billion and
AT&T $5 billion on different strategies. Verizon is laying
fiber directly to individual homes, while AT&T is building
AT&T's strategy is less expensive but doesn't offer the same
bandwidth capabilities as Verizon's fiber-to-the-home
Qwest has said it is closely watching AT&T's efforts,
although its RFP inquires about both technologies, Ross
"All of the telephone companies are making these network
transformations because they have to stay alive," Ross said.
Cable companies and Internet-based phone providers are
increasingly grabbing wireline customers from the incumbent
carriers. In turn, the Bells have partnered with
satellite-TV companies to offer a package of phone, Internet
and video services.
They have also launched their own video offerings in some
markets using a technology called Internet Protocol
Television, or IPTV, which is digital TV service sent
through Internet lines. Upgraded networks will allow the
Bells to do so on a broader scale.
Ross said the deadline for responding to Qwest's RFP was
late last month. He said Qwest will probably spend two to
three months reviewing proposals before selecting a vendor.
Qwest's capital expenditures have hovered around $1.6
billion annually in recent years and are expected to remain
at that level for the foreseeable future, Lentz said. Much
of the company's spending has gone toward improving the
reach and speed of its high-speed Internet Digital
Subscriber Line offering.
Through its 14-state local phone service territory, Qwest
packages its phone and Internet offerings with satellite-TV
service from DirecTV.
The company also offers IPTV to a few select neighborhoods
in Colorado, Arizona and Nebraska.
Qwest chief executive Dick Notebaert recently told The
Denver Post that 2007 will be a telling year for IPTV.
"I think we're going to see an acceleration of customers'
acceptance of newer applications," Notebaert said. "The
whole idea of IPTV ... we'll see if that works -- if
customers accept it -- (in 2007)."
Staff writer Andy Vuong
can be reached at 303-954-1209 or