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Qwest ignores realities

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Count on Qwest to completely misinterpret the law and ignore the realities of the marketplace to advance its interests. The Aug. 24 article, "Qwest is aiming to re-enter long-distance market by '02," reports that only if Qwest is allowed to offer long-distance phone service will consumers enjoy the benefits of choice in long distance.

Since the breakup of the Bell system in the 1980s, long distance rates have fallen by 70 percent, thanks to competition. By contrast, only 4 percent of Utah's residential and small business customers today use an alternative to Qwest for local phone service.

Qwest trots out what it claims to be a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study arguing long-distance rates fall when the Bell companies are allowed into that market. It's no trivial matter that the "MIT study" was bought and paid for by Qwest and prepared by a professor who is relying on the respectability of MIT employment. When we tried to obtain a copy, MIT said it didn't have it and told us to call Qwest. Lo and behold, the report can be found on a Qwest-supported Web site.

Moreover, this study ignores reality. When competition first appears, Bells undercut the new entrants, then raise rates after driving off those entrants. For example in Texas, after driving off its competition, SBC raised long distance rates by a penny a minute and upped high-speed Internet access rates $10 per month.

Qwest is the architect of its own future. If it chooses to, Qwest can satisfy the requirements and offer long distance. What it cannot do is skip eating its vegetables and move straight to dessert.

Bill Levis

Western director of public policy