Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A week after Verizon gets okay to leave state, Qwest gets snapped up by CenturyTel

First it was Verizon. Now it's Qwest.

A week after Washington's Utilities & Transportation Commission okayed Verizon's multistate megadeal with Frontier — which would triple the size of the Connecticut-based rural phone provider and allow Verizon to shed all of its Evergreen States landlines — Qwest Communications, which serves a big swath of the state, has announced it's agreed to be acquired by CenturyTel:
The combination would have about 18 million phone lines serving customers in 37 states, but would still be dwarfed by AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. It would be based at CenturyTel's headquarters in Monroe, La., rather than in Denver, where Qwest is based.

The number of landlines in the U.S. shrinks by about 10 percent per year as consumers chose to rely on their wireless phones or service from cable companies. The fourth-largest provider of landline phone service in the country, by number of subscribers, is now cable company Comcast Corp.
The annals of failed or unsuccessful mergers have grown with each passing year, but for some reason that has not disabused American business executives of the notion that bigger is better. And so we continue to see deals like this.

CenturyTel, which rebranded as CenturyLink after merging with Embarq (a Sprint spinoff) last year, is actually smaller than Qwest, but it's apparently richer, and so can afford to buy the Denver based company.

NPR reports that, as with the Verizon/Frontier deal, this transaction is also expected to be conveniently exempt from taxes, probably under the RMT loophole (that's just a guess... we haven't confirmed that).

No word yet on how Qwest customers might be inconvenienced. We assume the new company will allow people to keep their email addresses.

It's also unclear what happens to the Qwest Field name, though it will probably stay as it is, if history is any indication. Safeco Field didn't change its name after Safeco Insurance was bought by Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group two years ago.


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