Qwest pulls plug on NM Internet provider
The Associated Press
Wednesday, Decemer 31- 2008
LAS CRUCES, N.M.Qwest has disconnected independently
owned and operated Internet service provider SkyWi Inc.,
contending SkyWi owes $1.7 million for services dating back to
September. Albuquerque-based SkyWi buys wholesale Internet
services through Qwest before reselling them to its customers.
Qwest had asked SkyWi to pay more than $580,000 by Monday to
continue the service, said Qwest spokesman Mark Molzen.
Tuesday's disconnection was no surprise to SkyWi, Molzen said.
"We notified SkyWi several months in advance and numerous
times," he said.
SkyWi's chief development officer, Don Levy, said it owes money
to Qwest, but not $1.7 million. He would not disclose how much
SkyWi believes it owes.
He also would not say whether SkyWi customers were notified
service was being disconnected.
The decision to disconnect SkyWi affected Eddy County
government, which found itself without phone service and
scrambled to get hooked back up. The system was provided by One
Eddy County Manager Steve Massey in
said he had not known in advance that Qwest was disconnecting
SkyWi. The Eddy
sheriff's 911 emergency line was not affected.
SkyWi sued Qwest in December, alleging anti-competitive
"We have no issue with Qwest competing with us for the same
customers, as that is the nature of healthy competition," Jack
Leach, president of SkyWi, said in a news release. "But Qwest
has opted to take unfair advantage of their control over the
telecom networks in this region to create barriers that destroy
the competitiveness of smaller ISPs."
SkyWi acquired One Connect IP and ZiaNet in September, and Levy
said SkyWi realized there were problems between the two
companies and Qwest.
The lawsuit accuses Qwest of willfully and routinely engaging in
practices designed to remove effective competition from its
markets, Levy said.
Public Regulation Commissioner Jason Marks said no complaint has
been filed with the commission. The PRC has less authority over
Internet service, but Marks said he's asked his staff "to
determine whether (the commission) could have any role."