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Qwest drops access fees on 'pure' VoIP

The company stops levying expensive access charges on Net phone calls made to its customers and offers VoIP providers a cheaper rate for local services.

Qwest Communications International has stopped levying expensive access charges on Internet phone calls made to its customers.

In addition, the phone company plans to charge commercial voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers a cheaper rate for its local services, it announced. With so-called pure VoIP, voice communications completely bypass the traditional phone network and flow entirely over the Internet.

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Qwest's goal is twofold, said company Senior Vice President Steve Davis. It wants to set a precedent for federal regulators now drafting Net phone policies, and it's hoping that cheaper prices will attract more business from commercial Net phone providers.

"We think its important to establish the policy now," Davis said.

Representatives from the other regional Bell operating companies said they disagreed with Qwest's move.

"We ought to be paid for the use of our networks," said BellSouth spokesman Bill McCloskey.

The move comes a week after AT&T lost a key round in a bid to shave the cost of providing its long-distance service.