Staff at the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) and the state Attorney General’s Office Public Counsel Section have reached a settlement agreement with CenturyLink and Qwest regarding the proposed merger of the two telecompetitors. The UTC board will review and rule on the proposed merger at meetings scheduled January 5-7, the two companies announced in a news release.
CenturyLink and Qwest have agreed to make a minimum of $80 million worth of broadband infrastructure investments in Washington state over five years, a “significant portion dedicated to improve broadband service in unserved and underserved areas.” Settlement was also reached on “certain retail and wholesale issues,” some rates have been frozen for at least three years, and the companies have agreed to provide the commission with regular updates and reports regarding the merger and integration process.
“We are pleased an agreement was reached with the UTC staff and Public Counsel and that they are recommending the Commission approve the merger,” said 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.”