Centurylink acquires Qwest

DENVER – The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today approved CenturyLink’s proposed acquisition of Qwest Communications International, and accepted several settlements that will provide service quality and rate protections to retail and wholesale customers.

 The PUC concluded the proposed $10.6 billion stock swap transferring Qwest’s local and long-distance subsidiaries to CenturyLink was “not contrary to the public interest.” Colorado is one of numerous state and federal regulatory approvals required.

 In accepting the merger, the PUC approved a settlement between the applicants and PUC staff that calls for the combined companies to invest no less than $70 million in broadband infrastructure in Colorado over a five-year period. Also, the agreement calls for all merger-related costs to be excluded from customer rates, and for the merged company to provide additional service quality reports on a monthly basis.

 The PUC also approved a settlement agreement between the joint applicants and competitive local exchange companies to exclude all merger-related costs from wholesale rates, maintain all existing wholesale performance requirements, and use Qwest wholesale operational support systems until at least July 1 of 2013.

Other agreements between the joint applicants and the Department of Defense, Communications Workers of America, and 360networks also were approved or acknowledged.

 In a 2-1 vote, the PUC also asked the merged company for a commitment to maintain the historical level of Qwest’s corporate and charitable contributions in Colorado for a period of three years.

Together, CenturyLink and Qwest served local markets in 37 states with approximately 5 million broadband customers, 17 million local access lines, 1.4 million video subscribers and 850,000 wireless customers. The companies overlap in 10 states, including Colorado.

 Qwest, which acquired U S West in 2000, is the largest local phone provider in Colorado. CenturyLink, which acquired PTI Communications in 1997, is the second-largest provider, serving primarily rural exchanges. Most of the territory currently served by CenturyLink was obtained when U S West sold 45 exchanges in Colorado to PTI in 1994.