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4/3/2003

Qwest estimates $2.2M in fines

The Associated Press

DENVER Qwest Communications International estimated it should pay a $2.17 million fine for falling short of service quality standards in Colorado in 2002.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission still has to review the number and see if commissioners agree.

Last year Qwest was fined $4.1 million for service in 2001. It was fined $11.2 million for 2000.

The bottom line is that we wont be happy until we have zero fines, Qwest spokeswoman Rebecca Tennille said.

Qwests suggested 2002 fine would result in customer credits of 93 cents per residential phone line, Qwest said in the filing Tuesday with the PUC.

Under an agreement with state regulators, Qwest estimates a fine for itself based on comparing its service results to benchmarks set by the regulators. It could be fined up to $15 million for missing all the benchmarks.

Its biggest fine for 2002, a maximum of $2 million, is for not fixing out-of-service phone lines within 24 hours.

Tennille said Qwests average response time is 12 hours, but it failed to meet the regulatory standard of repairing 85 percent of the lines within 24 hours.

The PUC said there have been 305 complaints filed against Qwest so far this year, which puts Qwest on a pace to nearly halve the 2,317 complaints that were filed against it in 2002.