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News Release
Qwest Service Quality Fine Plummets in 2002
 
March 12, 2003 (2003 - 005)
 
Contacts: Roy Hemmingway, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Lee Beyer, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, OR – Service quality fines against Qwest Corporation dropped dramatically in 2002, according to an annual report to the Oregon Public Utility Commission from its staff. The fine for 2002 fell to $95,000 compared with a $255,000 penalty in 2001, and $725,000 in 2000.
 
"I regard this is an overwhelmingly positive report," said Commission Chairman Roy Hemmingway. "In the long run I think Qwest customers will perceive these improvements as well."
 
The Commission Chairman expressed concern that in the future reduced capital spending in Oregon due to the company’s financial situation might erode recent improvements.
 
Senate Bill 622, approved in the 1999 legislative session, requires the annual report. The legislation included automatic fines for not meeting statutory service quality standards. It also required Qwest to upgrade its network throughout rural parts of the state in exchange for an alternative form of regulation. Qwest is the only company that has opted for the different regulatory scheme.
 
The Commission took the first step yesterday to impose the $95,000 fine for seven violations including not meeting the trouble report rate, network blockage, and repair center access standards.
 
The Commission considered three options for the fine: target investment, bill credits, and waiving the fine.
 
The Commission unanimously agreed the $95,000 should be spent on targeted investment for Qwest’s network. The Commission also targeted the 2001 fine to upgrade the network.
 
The agreement will be final when the Commission signs off on a memorandum of understanding, which will spell out details for making the upgrades.
 
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