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Qwest to pay $6.5 million for long distance violations

The Associated Press

DENVER Qwest Communications International Inc. has agreed to pay $6.5 million for offering long distance services without federal government approval, the Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday.

The violations involved leases of so-called dark fiber lines, which are leased by Qwest but powered by other companies, and private lines used by cable and Internet companies, according to FCC documents.

When it merged with US West in 2000, Qwest was forced to give up its long-distance business in US Wests 14-state territory.

To re-enter the market, Qwest has to prove its local markets are open to competitors and receive state and FCC approval.

In the consent decree accepted by the FCC on Monday, Qwest said some of the transactions were the result of record-keeping and administrative errors.

The agreement ends an investigation that began in May 2001.

Denver-based Qwest has received FCC approval to sell long-distance in 12 of the 14 states where it provides local phone service.

The FCC must approve or deny Qwests Minnesota application by June 26.