State hosts telecomm hearing

Public can comment on Qwest's partial deregulation petition

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Northwest Colorado business owners and operators can comment about a petition by Qwest to deregulate some services it provides them.

During a public hearing here Wednesday, the Public Utilities Commission is seeking public comment about whether there exists effective competition in the telecommunications market here.

The proposals by Qwest would not affect residential phone rates.

Interim Attorney General John Suthers and Qwest's attorneys disagree about what the state Legislature intended in 1987 when it changed portions of the law governing in-state telecommunication.

"Granting Qwest's application in this nascent marketplace for telecommunication services and products in Colorado will practically eviscerate the commission's authority to oversee telecommunication matters," Suthers wrote in a legal brief submitted to the PUC.

Qwest manages the large majority of both the phone lines in Colorado. Its filing with the Public Utilities Commission would deregulate long-distance calls within the state, and services such as call-waiting for commercial accounts.

Qwest officials say they need the change to keep pace with unregulated competitors.

Qwest representatives contend that the Legislature gave the PUC latitude to deregulate where appropriate.

Suthers counters that the commission was not given that authority. Given the amount of emerging technology in telecommunications, he thinks the timing is wrong for deregulation.

The Steamboat hearing will be held at 7 p.m. in the Yampa Valley Electric Association community room at 32 10th St.


-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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