Tech Industry

Qwest to turn up heat on SBC-AT&T merger fight

Letter to FCC says merger would result in higher prices, reduced service quality, and fewer choices for customers.

Qwest Communications International said Monday that it plans to file comments with the Federal Communications Commission urging commissioners to reject the merger of SBC Communications and AT&T.

Qwest, the smallest of the four Baby Bell phone companies, said in a statement that the merger would result in higher prices, reduced service quality, and fewer choices for retail and business customers. It also argued that the proposed merger threatens competition from emerging technologies such as wireless, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and other broadband technologies.

"The combination of SBC and AT&T as proposed would set our industry back years," Steve Davis, Qwest senior vice president of public policy, said in a statement. "SBC proposes to acquire its largest competitor and greatest strategic threat. It is inconceivable that this transaction could be in the public interest without the imposition of significant conditions and required divestitures."

Last week, Qwest filed a protest with the Public Utilities Commission of California opposing SBC's merger with AT&T. SBC and AT&T both have a large presence in California.

Qwest has repeatedly voiced its opposition to the $16 billion merger between SBC and AT&T since it was announced in January. It has also publicly criticized the proposed merger between Verizon Communications and MCI, the No. 2 long-distance carrier in the United States.

For the past three months, Qwest has

MCI has already rejected Qwest's offer three times in favor of lower bids from Verizon. But MCI's board of directors had a change of heart Saturday, declaring Qwest's newly revised $9.9 billion offer as superior to the $7.8 billion Verizon has offered. Verizon has not indicated if it will raise its bid.