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News Release
Qwest Directory Assistance to Remain Regulated
June 24, 2003 (2003 - 017)
Contacts:  Roy Hemmingway, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Lee Beyer, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR – Qwest Communications will not be granted authority to set new prices for directory assistance calls due to a decision by the Oregon Public Utility Commission to retain its regulatory oversight of the service.
The Commission concluded it is not in the public interest to deregulate a service for which prices will almost certainly go up, without offsetting benefits to consumers.
Qwest argued that competitive markets do not necessarily result in price decreases. However, the Commission said it does not believe the legislature intended to adopt a regulatory scheme that results in higher prices to consumers.
An investigation by Commission staff found that in states where Qwest has been allowed to deregulate directory assistance services, Qwest eliminated the free call allowance and raised the price to $1.25 per call. Qwest customers currently receive two in-state directory assistance calls per month for free and then pay $.50 per call. There is no free call allowance for national directory assistance.
Qwest stated the service should be deregulated because the public has alternatives to find phone numbers including dial around carriers, print directories, wireless directories, and the Internet.
The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) agreed with the Commission that it is not in the public interest to deregulate directory assistance. CUB tried the various alternatives Qwest cited in its testimony and found none provide a true competitive alternative to Qwest’s regulated service. In addition, CUB maintains that Qwest’s long time monopoly on directory assistance services gives Qwest a clear advantage in the market in terms of consumer awareness.
The Commission did agree to grant Qwest’s petition to deregulate its Complete-A-Call services, because price and service competition does exist for that service. Complete-A-Call is available only with local directory assistance. The service allows customers calling Qwest’s directory assistance service to be connected to the number they requested. This service costs $.35 per completed call.
The Commission included a condition that the company tell customers about the price before each offer of the Complete-A-Call option and before any charges are applied for the service.