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News Release
Qwest Sustains Service Quality Improvements but Faces $725,000 in Potential Fines for Past Violations
February 16, 2001 (2001-008)
Contacts: Ron Eachus, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Roger Hamilton, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, Ore.- Based on sustained improvements in service quality during the year 2000, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) decided today that it is no longer necessary to hold quarterly service quality meetings with Qwest (formerly known as US West).
Despite improvements the company still faces $725,000 in potential fines for violations of some statutory service quality standards as prescribed in the 1999 legislation, Senate Bill 622.
Most of the fines accrued in the first half of last year in switches located in a handful of specific geographic areas.
The Commission will decide later this year how much of the fine to levy and what to do with it. "I think the general desire of the Commission is to target the relief to specific geographic areas that experienced service quality problems," Commission Chairman Ron Eachus said.
The decision to suspend the regular quarterly meetings came at today's meeting to review results for the year 2000 fourth quarter.
Commissioner Joan Smith said, "Qwest has come a very long way. They kept their commitment to improve. That's the most important part."
The Commission noted there is no indication service quality will decline and is optimistic the quality of service customers will receive should continue to get better in 2001 as Qwest completes upgrades to its system.
In 2000, Qwest embarked upon an aggressive program to replace the remaining older analog switches in its network, which had been the source of problems for a number of Oregon communities.
The company converted eight analog switches to digital. The two remaining analog switches, located in Medford and Klamath Falls, are scheduled to be replaced by the end of March.
The PUC staff report indicated a steady decline in quarterly fines: $255,000 first quarter; $225,000 second quarter; 135,000 third quarter; and $110,000 fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the company met standards for held orders, trouble reports cleared, repair center access, and sales office access.
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