JANUARY 2, 2011 -- CenturyLink Inc. and Qwest Communications have reached a settlement agreement with the staff of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) and the Public Counsel Section of the Washington State Attorney General's Office on the proposed merger of the two companies.
The parties to the settlement agreed to recommend that the UTC approve the transaction, subject to certain conditions. The UTC must review the settlement and may approve, reject, or change the conditions. Hearings are scheduled for Jan. 5 through 7, 2011.
Under the agreement, CenturyLink and Qwest committed to investing a minimum of $80 million in broadband infrastructure in Washington over five years, with a significant portion dedicated to improve broadband service in unserved and underserved areas. The agreement also resolves certain retail and wholesale issues, freezes some rates for at least three years, and commits the merged company to provide regular updates and reports to the commission regarding the integration of the two companies.
"We are pleased an agreement was reached with the UTC staff and Public Counsel and that they are recommending the Commission approve the merger," says Kirk Nelson, Qwest Washington president. "This agreement assures that Qwest's strong commitment to its customers in Washington will continue after the transaction is completed and our companies have combined operations."
"The needs of the people of Washington were a primary consideration during the discussions about the proposed merger," explains John Jones, vice president of state government affairs for CenturyLink. "It was a thorough process, and we are pleased that it resulted in additional support of the merger."