settle; upgrades ordered
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Friday, December 29, 2006
New Mexico regulators on Thursday unanimously approved a
proposed settlement requiring Qwest Communications to invest in
network upgrades and high-speed Internet services, ending
litigation stemming from an investment shortfall. The Denver
telco said the agreement would provide more than $250 million in
investments and other benefits in New Mexico.
The settlement specifically requires Qwest to bring high-speed
Internet capabilities to 83 percent of the homes and businesses
in its service area over three years, including at least 50
percent in rural areas.
Qwest also must issue $10 million in one-time credits to New
Mexico customers, an increase from a proposed $7.2 million.
New Mexico Public Regulation Commission officials said in the
19-page order that the settlement would provide "significant
benefits" to Qwest customers in the state and to the general
In 2001, Qwest agreed to invest $788 million over five years in
New Mexico in exchange for an alternative form of regulation.
But state regulators concluded Qwest fell $220 million short and
initially argued that a credit or customer refund was required.
The proposed settlement came only after New Mexico Gov. Bill
Richardson's administration intervened in what had become a
"This historic agreement would not have been possible without
the effort of many key people," Steve Davis, Qwest senior vice
president of public policy, said in a statement.
Still, not everyone was happy.
The AARP in New Mexico had urged regulators to reject the
proposed settlement, saying it didn't believe Qwest would honor
"Obviously, it's not the way we hoped it would have gone," said
Stan Cooper, New Mexico state director of the AARP. "But we're
hopeful from the comments made by some of the PRC members that
there will be some stringent enforcement."
+ 5 cents