Qwest Communications International said Wednesday that it passed a series of tests that will allow the telecommunications carrier to start applying for government permission to offer long-distance phone service within its 14-state territory. The company said that a final report compiled by an independent administrator indicates that Qwest has adequately opened its network in 13 states. The company already met requirements in Arizona. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires incumbent phone companies, or Baby Bells, to show that they have opened their local networks to competitors in exchange for permission to offer long-distance service.
The Denver-based company plans to file by mid-June with the Federal Communications Commission for long-distance approval in five states and expects to receive the government's blessing within 90 days after the filing of each application. Qwest is the only Baby Bell that has not received long-distance approval in its territory, which covers part of the western United States., and have all gained the green light to offer service within some of their states.