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News Release
Commission Declines to Deregulate Qwest Corp. Operator Services
October 21, 2003 (2003 - 028) (UX 28, UX 27)
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 – The Oregon Public Utility Commission has turned down a request by Qwest Corporation to deregulate prices for Operator Services.
Qwest requested that it be allowed to deregulate Operator Services based on their contention that there is both service and price competition, and that the public interest no longer requires full regulation.
The Commission disagreed concluding that Qwest had failed to establish there is price competition for Operator Service and said that deregulation would likely only bring higher prices. They also noted that Qwest's control of the "O" access number is a significant barrier to competitor entry into the market. While Qwest does not own the "O" dialing code, it does control it. In 98 of 100 residential lines in Qwest Territory, dialing "O" routes the call to Qwest.
The Commission noted that in four states where Qwest's Operator Services have been deregulated, Qwest has raised prices.
"I do not believe it would be in the interest of consumers to deregulate this service when the likely result would be rising prices with no offsetting benefit to customers," Commission Chair Lee Beyer said. "I can't imagine that when the Legislature enacted this law, they expected competition to drive prices higher."
The Commission did agree, with conditions, to deregulate Qwest's 800 ServiceLine and intraLATA toll services.
In a related decision, the Commission also denied a petition for reconsideration of a previous order, which denied Qwest's request to deregulate directory assistance services.