Helen Coster and Susan Adams
Monday, June 20, 2005
From April 26, 2004 - Qwest for Success
Of all the telecom companies facing competition from new cheap phone networks, Qwest was taking the lead, we said a year ago. It now looks more like Qwest is the industry laggard. The Denver-based local phone company for 14 western states now faces Verizon -- which beat Qwest's efforts to take over long-distance titan MCI -- and the Goliath formed by SBC Communications' January agreement to buy AT&T.
What about Qwest's $40 million network rebuild, which we said would make its local phone service Internet Protocol (IP) ready? A company spokeswoman says Voice over IP service is now offered in 225 markets. But VoIP also is soaring among Qwest's rivals, including upstart Vonage and cable providers Cablevision and Time Warner Cable. Through an alliance with cable operators, Sprint has increased its number of VoIPcustomers from zero to 250,000 since early 2004. Qwest's stock price is below $4, close to where it was a year ago.
From April 19, 2004 - Pay to Play
Last year FORBES ran two exposÚs about conflicts of interest in the pension consulting business. The experts who are paid handsomely to advise public pension funds also pocket undisclosed fees from the money managers they recommend. We noted that regulators had been slow to clean up the mess.
The government is starting to mobilize. In May the Securities & Exchange Commission issued the results of an 18-month investigation. Conclusion: The 1,700 member industry operates a "pay to play" system, and its advice is tainted by its own financial interests. The SEC is referring unnamed firms to its investigations unit for possible enforcement action.