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Qwest

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Qwest Communications International Inc. (Qwest is pronounced "Quest") is a large telecommunications carrier serving 14 western U.S. states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. It trades on the NYSE under the symbol "Q".

The company provides local telephone service, long distance, and backbone services. They also provide wireless, DSL and digital television service in some areas.

Founded in 1996 by Philip Anschutz, Qwest grew aggressively, acquiring LCI, a low cost long distance carrier in 1998. More notably, Qwest grew beyond its long-distance service when it merged with "Baby Bell" US West on June 30, 2000. Anschutz owns 17.5% of the resulting company.

Qwest (and previously US West) has been plagued by an image of poor customer service after years of complaints, earning it the nickname "Qworst" in some circles.

One of the historically significant mass complaints regarding Qwest involved the company's tendency of switching its local telephone service customers over to Qwest's long-distance service without their permission, an illegal practice known as "slamming". In July 2000, Qwest paid a $1.5 million fine to the Federal Communications Commission to resolve slamming complaints. In April 2001, they paid a $350,000 fine to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection after the state cited them for deceptive advertising and slamming practices.

The company was also involved in accounting scandals, and was recently fined $250 million by the SEC, to be split into two $125 million payments due to the poor state of Qwest's current financial health. Among the transactions in question were a series of deals with Enron's broadband division which may have helped Enron conceal losses. Despite the settlement, in 2005, former CEO Joseph Nacchio and eight other former Qwest employees have been accused of fraud in a civil lawsuit filed by the SEC.

Dick Notebaert, who took over as CEO in 2002, introduced the "Spirit of Service" campaign which promotes the company as being refocused on customer satisfaction.

In 2004, Qwest became the first local phone company in the United States to offer naked DSL, i.e. DSL Internet service that does not require the customer to have local landline phone service.

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