Sep 26 2005

A monopoly at work: Qwest in New Mexico


For those of you who are new to the subject, here’s a quick rundown: Qwest agreed to spend 788 Million $ over the years from 2001 to 2006 on New Mexico’s telecommunication infrastructure (we are talking upgrade of lines, DSL service, ISDN service, etc.). In return the Public Regulations Commission allows them to increase rates over that time period and get some other goodies. Now it looks like Qwest is going to keep 200 Million $ in their pockets and not invest as much as promised in NM (that’s a quarter of what they agreed to pay). You guessed it right, they still want to increase the phone packages to the prices agreed upon in 2001. Jason Marks, from the PRC responsible for District One (Albuquerque), has documented all this stuff very nicely at: http://www.jasonmarks.com/ hop on over there to get all the details. Qwest is the ONLY game in this state. No other providers are available!

Why am I writing about this? Well, I **live** from my data connection back to work in California. If my data connection is down, I can’t do my work. Over the past few months it has happened that my connection was down more than I had hoped for. We are not talking about a phone-line, ISDN-line or DSL-connection. No, I happen to have a T1 line for myself. Those things are supposed to have 100% uptime and if it ever goes down, it should be fixed within minutes. So being disconnected for hours is not good at all. And if that happens several times is actually really, really annoying.
Every time I was down, I checked with my ISP (http://www.cybermesa.com/) and every time I was informed that somewhere upstream somebody tripped over a wire or flipped the wrong switch. Upstream here means: Qwest

Just yesterday there was another outage. And Jane Hill, who runs Cybermesa, sent this email today:

Dear Cyber Mesa Subscriber,
We provide lots of different voice and data services, so it could be
that you were totally unaffected by any of the problems that we faced
yesterday. Dial-up subscribers and a large number of Qwest DSL
customers were the most susceptible.
Essentially, a very large Qwest pipe that provides the connection
between Qwest and Cyber Mesa for over 1,000 Qwest DSL customers on
Cyber Mesa began "bouncing". The circuit went up and down so quickly
that at first we could not diagnose it. We do check our network
hardware, Internet connections and processes every five minutes, but
the circuit was turning on and off every few seconds. The result was
that all of the Qwest DSL modems that utilized the circuit were
automatically trying to re-establish their connections every couple
of seconds or so. Dial-up subscribers were affected because there
were so many DSL modems trying to reconnect that our authentication
servers (the servers that grant access to subscribers based on user
name and password) got bogged down.
About mid-morning, we realized that one of the Qwest DSL DS3 circuits
(big pipes) was the culprit. We called in a trouble ticket to Qwest.
It took Qwest more than two hours to deal with the issue. Some time
between 1 and 2pm the circuit suddenly stabilized!
Discouragingly enough, the problem did not go away once the Qwest
circuit normalized. The load on our authentication servers continued
for at least another two hours. In order to compensate for the
overload, we brought up a third authentication server. By late
afternoon everything was stable, though we are mystified as to why
our servers did not clear immediately after the Qwest circuit was
repaired. We are still investigating.
------------------------------------------------------
As you may know, in 2000 Qwest promised to invest $788 million in its
New Mexico infrastructure in return for a fair amount of
deregulation. Qwest is coming up short to the tune of more than $200
million. While you may be completely satisfied with Qwest phone
service, we are in the telecom business, and we are painfully
cognizant that the shortfall in investment hampers Qwest NM
residential and business customers alike. In our case, this is the
third large Qwest data pipe that has gone down in as many months. We
are told that DS3s (the big pipes) almost never fail in other Qwest
states.
While Cyber Mesa is reticent to take its politics public, we are
doing so now. The lack of Qwest investment in home phone lines and
more major circuits is taking its toll on the New Mexico economy and
on future investment in the State. If you would like to put in your
two cents, please note that this email is copied to the following
people with email addresses on the cc line above:
        Leo Baca - Qwest Public Relations in New Mexico
        Dick Notebaert - Qwest CEO in Denver
        Jason Marks - NM Public Regulation Commissioner
        Ben R. Lujan, Chairman, NM Public Regulation Commission
        David W. King - NM Public Regulation Commissioner
        Lynda M. Lovejoy - NM Public Regulation Commissioner
        E. Shirley Baca - NM Public Regulation Commissioner
We would be thrilled if you would take the time to write any or all
of them.
------------------------------------------------------
As always, we regret the incredible inconvenience to all.
*** Jane ***
Jane M. Hill
Cyber Mesa Telecom
Santa Fe Headquarters
1-505-988-9200

So, to sum it up: Qwest has a monopoly in this state. Qwest is abusing that monopoly. They are milking the cow without feeding it.

3 Responses to “A monopoly at work: Qwest in New Mexico”

  • Aj Says:

    has this situation been corrected?

  • MZM Says:

    I completely agree with you. I just moved to ABQ from SF a few months ago and I’ve had the worst experience with Qwest. Especially their customer service is indifferent, rude, and incompetent. Unfortunately I don’t have a choice, Qwest is the only internet company at my apartment complex… Qwest does have a horrible monopoly in NM.

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