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Qwest trims bundled-service prices again
The telecom cites competition for new customers with cable giant Comcast.  An analyst says a price war could hurt the carriers.
By Beth Potter, Staff Writer
Denver Post
Thursday, June 1, 2006

Qwest said Wednesday it is dropping prices for "bundled" services for new customers for the second time in a little more than two months, stepping up the pressure on cable rival Comcast Corp.

New Qwest customers in six states can pay $86.97 per month for 15 months of local and long-distance phone service, high-speed Internet and satellite TV.

The deal is available in Colorado, Washington, Minnesota, Arizona, Oregon and Utah.

Since late March, when Denver-based Qwest first lowered its bundled prices, new customers have paid $96.97 for the phone/Internet/TV package, and $91.97 if they signed up online.  Qwest resells DirecTV service.

"We're doing this in certain markets to compete heavily with the cable operators," said Stephanie Copeland, Qwest vice president of product marketing.

Customers will have to send in a one-time rebate form to get the special price.

A similar package of "digital voice" phone service, high-speed Internet and cable TV from Comcast costs $112.89, said Cindy Parsons, a spokeswoman.

"We compete every day for every customer on many different levels: product features, customer service, convenience and ease of use, not just price alone," Parsons said.  "Comcast offers better products and services and better customer experience."

By the end of the year, Qwest plans to roll out new products to its 1 million bundled customers.  Those products will be along the lines of using TV to access the Internet, or using a cellphone to watch videos, Copeland said.

Competition may be good for consumers, but it could be bad for the carriers in the long run, said Craig Clausen, senior vice president of New Paradigm Resources Group in Chicago.

"Carrier revenue streams are hurt as they drop prices below an optimal point as they strive to reach additional customers," Clausen said.

Qwest provides local phone service in 14 mostly Western states, including Colorado. Comcast has 700,000 customers in Colorado.

Staff writer Beth Potter can be reached at 303-820-1503 or bpotter@denverpost.com.

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