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News Release
Commission Recommends to FCC Qwest be allowed to provide Long Distance Services Statewide
August 19, 2002 (2002 - 023)(UM 823)
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 – The Oregon Public Utility Commission is recommending to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that Qwest Communications be granted authority to enter the long-distance market in Oregon.
In the two years it took to reach the recommendation, the Commission concluded the company’s application complied with a 14-point competitive checklist and a public interest test. The checklist is designed to ensure that markets are fully and irreversibly open for competitive telecommunication providers. The most technical parts of the application were scrutinized in a collaborative manner by 13 states served by Qwest.
"This decision represents a milestone for Oregon. Qwest has opened its network to competitors and we will have the tools to keep it open. That means more choices for customers," said Commissioner Joan Smith.
Commissioner Lee Beyer said, "Cheaper rates and better service are our objective. This decision keeps Oregon moving in that direction."
The recommendation by the Commission does not, by itself, allow Qwest to offer its customers long-distance service in competition with other carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, or MCI. Federal regulators have the final say.
Nine other states in Qwest’s service territory have already recommended Qwest be allowed to provide long distance services in their state. The company anticipates filing Oregon’s application with the FCC around the middle of September.
The 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act gives states only the authority to recommend entry into the long-distance market. The FCC has 90 days within which to act on the Oregon Commission’s recommendation once Qwest files.
The Act required Bell Operating Companies, such as Qwest, to file applications with the FCC on a state-by-state basis to provide in-region interLATA phone/data services. Bell Operating Companies must demonstrate they will provide competitors nondiscriminatory access to their networks in order to increase competition.
The Commission also determined alleged "secret" interconnection agreements between Qwest and some its competitors did not rise to the level of special circumstances to warrant delaying a decision on the company’s long-distance application. The Oregon Commission’s staff continues to scrutinize the various contracts in question.
Through a collaborative effort, several states, including Oregon, in the Qwest service territory will monitor Qwest’s compliance on competitive issues through a post-approval process.
Oregon will have the authority to levy fines with payments going to competitors and/or states depending on the violation. In Oregon’s case future penalties would go into the State’s Infrastructure Fund administered by the State Economic Development Department. Each month Qwest will report compliance data to the Commission.