Residents See Little Change Since Qwest, CenturyLink Merger

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WASHINGTON COUNTY —The blue Qwest logo is forever gone from Utah residents’ phone bills.

Qwest Communications International, Inc.—which has been owned and operated by CenturyLink, Inc. since the two companies closed a merger deal April 1, 2011—has assumed the name CenturyLink effective August 8.

CenturyLink is now the third largest telecommunications company in America, services 37 states and employs about 45,000 people. In Utah, the new company provides services for about 601,000 households.

The company is emphasizing that it will be “business as usual” and that services previously offered through either company can be expected to continue with “no immediate changes.”

When St. George News posted a request for Qwest customer feedback on its facebook page, the Qwest/CenturyLink internet service in Southern Utah was one area that received more criticism than praise.

Two users said their service plans include access at 9 megabytes per second but are not getting speeds of higher than 2 or 3 megabytes per second. You can test your connection

One user called the Qwest internet link “a joke” but said that there has been no change up or down since CenturyLink began managing Qwest accounts the beginning of April.

However, according to CenturyLink, this is one area that will improve because of the merger.

The digital internet and television side of the telecommunications industry has been racing to convert its networks from copper lines to fiber-optic lines, which are currently being deployed for speeds of 40 Gigabytes per second and have the capacity for over 100GB per second.

In assuming control of Qwest’s home phone accounts, according to a CenturyLink statement, little will change besides the name of the website. Telephone numbers and billing addresses will stay the same. Prices and plans and help for low-income households will stay the same.

St. George resident and home phone account holder LuAnn Dewey, 57, said she has no objections to the merger “as long as service stays the same.”

Dewey said she has not had any problems with her home phone service since the merger but even if there were problems, she might not know. She and her household use their cell phones more than the house phone.

The same is true for much of America.

According to a report by the Federal Communications Commission, home phone lines in America reached their peak in the year 2000, registering in at over 188 million lines. Since then, home phone lines in America have decreased by about 5 percent each year. As of June 2010, there were fewer than 123 million home phone lines in America, roughly 65 percent of the total in the year 2000.

The number of home phone lines in America is not the only reason for Qwest’s financial struggle. CenturyLink also serviced home phone accounts during that period but their earnings tell different stories.

Qwest and CenturyLink announced the merger in June of 2010, a year in which Qwest reported that it lost more money than it had earned in 2009. Qwest’s earnings in 2009 were half of its earnings in 2008.

While this decision may have been triggered by Qwest’s losses, it comes as the latest installment of mergers and acquisitions that have been happening since 1996—long before the current economic recession began.

What made that year so pivotal was the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which deregulated some restrictions the industry had been operating under since 1934.

As speed and coverage for phone and internet service depends largely on network development, the 1996 act gave the Federal Communications Commission the ability to remove some state regulations that had impeded companies from expanding and developing their network.

The act also made cooperation a requirement among carriers. It required telecommunications companies to allow both established and new companies access to their networks based on the wholesale cost of doing so.

The most debated part of the act, however, was that it removed a federal restriction that had segregated the market, allowing previously limited companies to compete in other areas.

More information can be found at

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2011, all rights reserved.

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