CenturyLink and Qwest Agree to Merge [telecom]

CenturyLink and Qwest agree to merge!

Actually, CenturyLink is to buy Qwest in an all-stock transaction, of about (US)$ 22.4 BILLION.

There are numerous web-stories on this, which can be found from doing Google "news" searches.

It appears that Qwest's IXC side will be included (101-0432 and other codes), which itself is a (1998? 99?) merger of LCI and an earlier Qwest.

Qwest-ILEC is actually an RBOC, made up of Northwestern Bell (MN, IA, NE, ND, SD), Mountain (States) Bell (CO, UT, AZ, NM, MT, WY, southern ID), and Pacific Northwest Bell (WA, OR, and a small piece of central ID). Qwest-ILEC RBOC was known as US-West from 1984 (divestiture), until 2000 when Qwest (IXC) and US-West merged.

Pacific Northwest Bell _USED_ to be part of Pacific Telephone & Telegraph (California, and Nevada-Bell), until it became its own BOC circa 1961.

CenturyLink will now become a "BOC" in those 14 states of Qwest-LEC/US-West!

There is a new website set up with information on this CenturyLink/Qwest merger,

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After clicking on the "I agree" to the "forward looking statement" legalese, you can then go to:
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On that page is a map of Qwest and CenturyLink's current ILEC coverage areas, and also a "network map" of the IXC/fiber/etc. aspects, which appears to indicate that Qwest-IXC (the pre-US-West merger LCI/Qwest) is to be included in this 2010 CenturyLink/Qwest merger. There are also downloadable pdf's of these maps at this page as well.

I wonder if the Qwest name will be replaced by the CenturyLink name, or the other way around? (Assuming approval from all regulatory bodies). It was only in the past year-and-a-half that CenturyTel bought out Embarq (the 2005/06 spin-off of old Centel and United, that Sprint sold off shortly after Sprint took over Nextel cellular, Sprint no longer having any landline, being only wireless and IXC). The Embarq areas had been United or Centel the early 1990s when United bought out the remaining shares of Sprint-IXC from GTE and then renamed itself Sprint. Then the Embarq name replaced Sprint in those areas in 2006, only to be changed to CenturyLink last Summer (2009). And all of the CenturyTel areas also had to rename/brand as CenturyLink (with a new logo) as well, although the "Century" part was retained.

I understand that the HQ will remain in Century's HQ of Monroe LA (which itself is actually an at&t/BellSouth/South-Central-Bell/Southern-Bell ratecenter), but that Denver CO (HQ of Qwest-LEC/US-West/Mountain-Bell) will continue to be a major operational center.

CenturyLink/Qwest will have several "big" cities though, including the following from Qwest/US-West: Denver CO, Minneapolis/St.Paul MN, Seattle WA, Portland OR, Salt Lake City UT; and from CenturyLink (Embarq but dating back to Centel) Las Vegas NV.

CenturyTel had taken over numerous GTE and GTE-once-Contel areas that GTE or later VeriZon chose to sell-off during the 1990s-era or in 2000 and 2002. And here in Louisiana, circa 1972/73, Century bought out all of GTE's presence, and then circa 1977, Century bought out all of Contel's presence. The vast bulk of the Lafayette/Lake Charles LA LATA, at least in number of ratecenters/c.o.switches/geography is CenturyLink, mostly GT&E that was sold to Century in the early 1970s. (However, the number of access lines and population in this LATA is "Bell", being Lafayette and Lake Charles, and several other larger population ratecenters, when compared to CenturyLink).

CenturyTel began buying out other local/small independent telcos in Louisiana and Arkansas throughout the later 1960s and 1970s-era. Then they began branching out into other states as well. In the late 1980s or early 1990s, Universal Telephone was purchased by CenturyTel. Universal was another group of mostly rural/small town local telcos.

In 1997, Century bought out PTI (Pacific Telecom Inc), which was a growing independent telco group out west and in the Pacific Northwest states, and also the "upper" Midwest area (ND, SD, MN, WI). PTI also owned a number of local telcos throughout Alaska, and between 1980 and

1994 had owned Alascom itself (the dominant LD-provider in Alaska; AT&T bought out Alascom in 1994, known now as AT&T-Alascom). Century did NOT retain the local telcos of PTI in Alaska, that has been retained by PTI Alaskan-based executives as "ACS", Alaska Communications Services.

In 1999, CenturyTel bought out some twenty Wisconsin ratecenters from SBC/Ameritech/Wisconsin-Bell! Including Superior WI. Also note that Superior WI has inter-LATA EAS with Qwest/NW-Bell's Duluth MN, which itself could now be part of Century!

Century has continued to buy out various local telcos, including the

2006 purchase of the Madison River group, which included Gulf Tel in Alabama, Gallatin River Tel in Illinois, Mebane Telco (MebTel) in North Carolina (which in 2005 had taken over two BellSouth exchanges, Milton NC and Gatewood NC, along the line with Virginia, but these two were BellSouth/Southern-Bell exchanges actually based in NC but part of a Virginia LATA), and Coastal Utilities & Communications in Georgia.

Over the years, Mountain Bell and Pacific Northwest Bell (in the early

1980s), US-West and then Qwest (following divestiture), had sold off some operating territory. These were individual exchanges/ratecenters, not entire blocks though. (Following the 1984 divestiture, it still was mostly in the old Mountain and Pacific Northwest regions, not really Northwestern Bell). CenturyTel bought up many of these one-time Bell exchanges, although other also bought some up as well, including Fremont Telecom St.Anthony ID which bought out the exchange from US-West/Mountain-Bell -- Fremont Telcom became part of FairPoint in 2000.

US-West/Qwest has not been really all that big into wireless over the past few decades. With 1984 divestiture, all seven Regional BOC corporations were allocated a "Mobility" side. I don't know if the original name for US-West's was known as "US-West Mobility" or not, but in the mid-1980s, US-West's was actually known as "New Vector". In

1996, US-West sold it to AirTouch, which was later bought by GTE and Vodafone, which itself later became VeriZon Wireless.

In more recent years, Qwest has been re-selling or jointly branding "another" cellular company for customers who chose to have combined billing of Qwest-ILEC and the joint-ventured wireless provider. Prior to Summer 2008, Qwest-ILEC and Sprint/(Nextel) were in a joint venture, with Sprint/(Nextel) re-branded as "Qwest Wireless". This came to an end in Summer 2008, and has since been in a venture with VeriZon-Wireless. I don't know what will happen w/r/t Wireless now that CenturyLink is to buy Qwest.

Qwest had farmed out its directory publishing business to DEX in recent years.

Qwest also expanded its name in payphones, going outside of its 14-state BOC (US-West) territory, having "COCOT-like" payphones in other states. And they have mostly retro-fitted previous c.o.switch-controlled telco payphones in its own 14-state BOC territory into "COCOT-like" payphones as well. But circa 2004/05, it appears that Qwest exited the payphone business, turning it over for most locations to "FSH", although there is still some kind of venture where the Qwest name still appears. Since I don't live in the 14-state Qwest-ILEC territory, and payphones overall have become such an archaic function (even though there is nostalgia to payphones), I haven't really even looked for any remaining "Qwest-branded" "COCOTs" in Louisiana recently. It's possible that there is still a Qwest-branding, but that doesn't really mean that Qwest or FSH owns that payphone anymore! COCOT-vendors, for the most part, really don't seem to "keep up" their equipment, though.

CenturyTel in southwest Louisiana still had some GTE-AE c.o.switch-controlled payphones here/there in its territory a few years ago. Many of them were still located inside the "egg-shaped" housings that GT(&)E and other independent telcos had been using in many areas since the late-1950s, throughout the 1960s, and into the 1970s. Also, remember that much of CenturyTel in south-central/south-west Louisiana is former GT&E, taking over when GTE exited Louisiana circa 1972/73. There weren't many of these GTE-AE manufactured telco-switch payphones in CenturyTel here in southwestern Louisiana, but there were still a few. Some of them have been removed since I first noticed them three years ago! They would route to at&t/South-Central-Bell intra-LATA TOPS and AT&T-LL inter-LATA OSPS on 0/00/0+/01+, but 1+ anything for sent-paid coin via TOPS (intra-LATA) would fail with a re-order, and AT&T-LL OSPS eliminated 1+ inter-LATA and 011+ IDDD coin-sent-paid back in 2002/03. (Of course, 1+8yy toll-free would work, so 1-800-CALL-ATT/etc. did indeed work). Local calls paid in coin worked as they should, with a "ground-check". If you didn't drop the 35-c (or was it 50-c?) and dialed all seven-digits on a local call, the c.o.switch would come in with "the call you have made requires a local deposit. Please hang up, then listen for dial-tone again, deposit that amount, and dial again".

I haven't really gone "out into the country" into CenturyLink towns here in southwest Louisiana lately to see if there are still any such payphones in actual service though, in the past couple of years, but as I said, the last time I went, about two years ago, many of the few I saw in 2007 were gone.

Embarq rebranded many of the previous Sprint-branded "super-COCOT" Millenniums payphones (card-swipes, LCD display, touch-a-carrier buttons and such). I don't know what Sprint-United/Centel (Embarq) had in their actual ILEC territory, but _MOST_ (though not all) Greyhound Bus stations have had Sprint-later-Embarq branded Nortel-Millennium super "COCOT" payphones. I haven't checked a Greyhound station lately to see if these are now branded CenturyLink though.

A CenturyLink press-release can be found at:

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I haven't yet looked for the Qwest press-release, but I assume that the text of both is mostly identical.

Mark J. Cuccia markjcuccia at yahoo dot com Lafayette LA, formerly of New Orleans LA pre-Katrina

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Mark J. Cuccia
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