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News Release
Commission Grants New Pricing Plan for Qwest Corporation
August 8, 2008 (2008-022) (UM-1354)
Contacts:  Lee Beyer, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Ray Baum, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Affairs Specialist, 503 378-8962
Salem, Ore. Today the Oregon Public Utility Commission granted a new pricing plan for Qwest Corporation that will provide the company with more flexibility in setting prices for services it offers to Oregon consumers in an increasingly competitive market while locking in prices for basic telephone service.
“This agreement ensures that customers in Oregon will be able to purchase a basic residential telephone line at today’s prices without having to also buy other services they may not want or need,” Commission Chairman Lee Beyer said.
In addition to freezing the price for a basic residential telephone line at today’s rates, which range from $12.80 to $14.80 a month, another customer benefit includes a three-year cap on primary business line rates.
Qwest also agreed to make $4 million in incremental improvements to the network over 3 years to be paid for by shareholders, not customers.  Proposed projects include up to $2 million for a Consumer Information Center. It’s envisioned that Center will provide consumers with a list of prices and availability of services from various telecommunication providers in their area.
The Commission decision approves the elements of an agreement reached between telephone companies, consumer groups, large business customers and Commission staff.
The agreement will replace the “price cap” regulations Qwest opted for in 1999 as part of Senate Bill 622.
“We firmly believe the provisions of this decision provide a progressive regulatory framework in an increasingly competitive environment that other carriers should seriously consider as well,” Chairman Beyer added.
Elements of the plan:
  • Sets a price limit for primary residential and small business telephone line
  • Customers will be able to buy primary telephone line without having to purchase other services
  • Qwest must let consumers know when the purchase of separate services will be more or less than a bundle of services
  • Freezes rates for Extended Area Service (EAS) at their current levels
  • Customers retain security features such as call blocking and ability to trace calls at today’s rates
  • Qwest may eliminate the 2 free calls per month for Directory Assistance
  • Current service quality reporting remains in effect and the Commission will conduct a comprehensive review of Qwest’s performance every 5 years
  • The Commission may review Qwest’s retail service quality at any time. Failing to meet standards could lead to suspension of Qwest’s pricing flexibility or rolling back prices to earlier levels
Link to the Commission order.