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Qwest pricing gets OK
Arizona regulators approve rates plan
By Ken Alltucker
The Arizona Republic
Friday, March 17, 2006 

State regulators on Thursday approved a plan that will allow Qwest Communications to collect an additional $31.8 million over the next year by raising prices on some residential and business services.

The deregulation plan approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission also eliminates a requirement that Qwest notify the state 30 days in advance of rolling out special promotions.

The Denver-based company has pushed the deregulation plan in Arizona and elsewhere so it can shore up its business against cable, wireless, Internet-based and other competitors.

Qwest, once a monopoly telephone company, has seen its number of access lines in Arizona drop from 3.3 million in 2000 to 2.3 million in December 2005.

"We're very pleased with the plan," Qwest spokesman Jeff Mirasola said.  "It gives us the flexibility in pricing packages.  We can also institute promotions without having to telegraph them to our competitors."

The plan splits Qwest's services into several categories and prices them accordingly.  Qwest would not be able to raise rates for basic phone lines and other services that customers cannot get from any other company.

It could increase rates up to 25 percent on non-essential services such as caller ID, number forwarding and other features.

Qwest could freely price services such as toll-free calling and voice mail that can be bought from other companies.

In some cases, Qwest would be required to reduce rates.  The company must reduce $12 million in annual fees it charges other carriers to use its lines and wires.

Under Commissioner Bill Mundell's amendment, customers will see the monthly charge for a non-published telephone number drop from $1.65 to 90 cents.  Also, the price of a non-listed telephone number, a number not published in a telephone directory but still publicly available through operator assistance, will drop from $1.30 to 55 cents per month.

Reach the reporter at ken.alltucker@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-8285.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/business/articles/0317qwest0317.html