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Qwest petition denied by FCC
By Kimberly S. Johnson
Denver Post
Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Federal Communications Commission denied a forbearance petition by Qwest Friday that would have let the carrier charge more to wholesale customers that must lease the company's "last-mile" network lines.

Qwest applied for the forbearance for several of its main markets Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix and Seattle stating that there is enough competition in these areas to support a suspension of regulatory guidelines forcing Qwest to charge what it calls, "below market" rates to companies such as XO Communications and Pactec.

In a 5-0 decision, the FCC said that Qwest did not meet the criteria need to receive forbearance, such as showing significant competition.

"The evidence also shows, however, that, in serving mass market and enterprise customers... competitors rely significantly on access to Qwest's last-mile network facilities... and Qwest's other wholesale services in all four MSAs," said the FCC in a written statement.

Qwest won a forbearance petition in Omaha, Neb. in 2005.

"Today's FCC action upholds the pro-competitive pricing rules that constitute the heart of the 1996 Telecommunications Act," said Heather Burnett Gold, senior vice president of external affairs for XO Communications.  "This decision is a victory for competition and consumers, and ensures that millions of business and residential customers throughout Qwest's region will continue to benefit from choice, innovation and lower prices."

Littleton-based TW Telecom Inc. formerly Time Warner Telecom also praised the decision.  The company is also reliant on big telecommunication outfit such as Qwest and Verizon to service customers, despite having a ring of fiber in central areas throughout the U.S.

"The FCC's decision today to deny Qwest's forbearance petitions will bolster competition that is essential if customers are to continue to enjoy low prices and innovative services -- and be free from the control of a single dominant incumbent," said company spokesman Bob Meldrum.  "A robust, competitive broadband marketplace is critical for the nation's competitiveness, an outcome at odds with attempts by Qwest, Verizon, and AT&T to abuse the forbearance process and harm competitors.  We continue to urge Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to reform the forbearance process to put a stop to the Bells' anti-consumer war on competition."

As of Friday night, Qwest had yet to respond to the decision.

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_10001707