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News Release
Qwest Service Quality Penalty $215,000 for 2003
March 2, 2004 (2004 - 005) (UM 1133)
 
Contacts:  Lee Beyer, Chairman, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Ray Baum, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, OR – Today the Oregon Public Utility Commission penalized Qwest Corporation $215,000 for lapses in statutory service quality standards in 2003.
 
The Commission directed Qwest to pay penalties of $95,000 in 2002, $255,000 penalty in 2001, and $725,000 in 2000.
 
"While the fine has increased compared with the previous year, Qwest really has made a pretty significant turnaround over the last three years," said Commission Chairman Lee Beyer. "We were concerned the company’s difficult financial situation could have eroded past improvement, and with a few exceptions, our fears have proved unfounded."
 
According to an annual report by the Oregon Public Utility Commission $175,000 of the total was attributed to trouble report rates in three exchanges: Lowell, Mapleton and Marcola in Lane County.
 
A penalty of $10,000 is due to network blockage. Customers experience network blocking when they receive a fast busy signal or a recording telling them all circuits are busy. The remaining $30,000 was for not meeting the Sales Office Access standard in September and November. The standard requires a live person to answer calls to the business office within 20 seconds, 75 percent of the time. The time spent in the Voice Response Unit, a "voice computer" that uses touchtone input to route calls, does not count toward the 20 seconds.
 
"What was impressive is that Qwest had no held orders for the entire year, Chairman Beyer said. And the standards for trouble reports cleared and repair center access were met every month during 2003."
 
The Commission is directing $215,000 be spent on the targeted investment of providing Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service to rural customers served by selected small wire centers, which did not meet service quality standards in 2003.
 
"It makes a lasting and meaningful way to direct these penalties to customers in parts of the state that otherwise may be in for a long wait to receive DSL," added Chairman Beyer.
 
The candidate exchanges are DSL are Blue River, North Plains, Lowell, Marcola, Mapleton and Warm Springs.
 
Senate Bill 622, approved by the 1999 legislature, requires the annual report. The legislation included automatic penalties when Qwest did not meet statutory service quality standards. 2003 is the last year for enforcement of these statutory service quality standards.
 
The Commission will continue to enforce Commission service quality standards, which are more stringent, but require court approval to impose fines.
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