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Mon., March 14, 2011, 4:59 p.m.

State approves Century-Tel, Qwest telecom merger

Washington state regulators on Monday approved the pending merger of telecom firms CenturyLink, Inc. and Qwest Communications.

Some conditions were attached to the deal, which has been more than a year in the making.

The Washington state Utilities and Transportation Commission set five multiparty settlement agreements over the key issues raised about the merger.

The overall goal, said the WUTC, is providing rate stability for residential and business telephone customers, protecting consumers from merger costs and expanding broadband Internet service to underserved areas in Washington. 

The companies have 15 calendar days to state objections to the extra conditions placed on the two companies.  Those conditions set by the WUTC include these:

  • Capping local telephone residential rates for at least three years after the sale closes.
  • Requiring the combined company to make an $80 million investment in broadband so high-speed Internet service will be available to more Washington consumers.
  • Preventing the new company from passing on merger costs to ratepayers.
  • Reporting merger savings and cost-cutting measures to the WUTC.
  • Reducing the new company’s fees charged to other carriers which should help lower long-distance rates for calls made within the state.
  • Submitting detailed plans to WUTC staff before transitioning to any new computer operating systems that affect customer services like billing or filling new phone orders. 

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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.