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State approves CenturyLink-Qwest telephone merger
March 14, 2011
The multiparty settlement agreements approved by the commission were reached between the companies and UTC staff members, the Public Counsel Section of the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Defense and several unaffiliated telecommunications carriers.
Last April, CenturyLink and Qwest announced an agreement in which CenturyLink would acquire Qwest’s entire business, including 10.3 million landline phone lines as part of a $10.6 billion merger. Shareholders from each company approved the merger last August. The Department of Justice and 19 states have approved the transaction. With Washington’s approval today, the deal still awaits approval in Oregon and at the Federal Communications Commission.
The commission has received 95 public comments to date – seven in favor, 51 opposed and 37 undecided or neutral.
Headquartered in Monroe, La., CenturyLink was formed through the merger of CenturyTel and Embarq in 2009. CenturyLink is the fourth-largest local phone company in the United States and the third-largest in Washington, serving about 200,000 phone lines in such cities as Carnation, Cheney, Cowiche, Fall City, Fox Island, Friday Harbor, Gig Harbor, Goldendale, Lake Quinault, Montesano, North Bend, Randle, Packwood, Poulsbo, Prosser, Ritzville, Snoqualmie Pass, Sprague, Twisp, Vashon, Wapato, Winthrop and Zillah.
Denver-based Qwest is the largest local phone company in Washington, serving approximately 1.3 million telephone lines. The company provides phone service to many larger cities including: Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Olympia, Bellingham, Aberdeen, Longview, Bremerton, Spokane, Moses Lake, Yakima, Pasco and Walla Walla. Qwest also provides traditional phone service in 14 mostly mid-Western and Western states.
If it receives all necessary regulatory approvals, the combined company will create the nation’s third-largest landline telephone company, serving about 17 million phone lines in 37 states.
The UTC is the state agency that regulates the rates and services of telephone companies operating in Washington. The commission does not regulate wireless carriers.
Editor’s note: A copy of the order is available at: www.utc.wa.gov/100820.
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