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Qwest Communications International Inc was founded in 1996 out of a project that installed an all-digital fiber optic infrastructure along the railway lines of the Southern Pacific Railroad. It grew aggressively after that, merging with 'Baby Bell' US West in 2000. It is now a major telecommunications carrier that provides voice, backbone data services and digital telephone services in some areas.
The company provides certain services in varying ways and in different parts of the country. A map of the US shows the Qwest fiber optic network running coast to coast. Indeed, the Qwest broadband internet network spans more than 173,000 miles globally. However, in the US, internet access is restricted to fourteen states in the west of the country:
Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, North Dakota, Oregon and South Dakota.
Wireless internet is available through a partnership with Verizon Wireless. Qwest also partners with DirectTV to provide digital television service. Customers in Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City and Omaha had a cable system known as Choice TV but were being migrated to DirectTV from October 2008.
To see what's available, access the website at www.qwest.com. Those of you who might have heard the adverts instead of seeing them, don't make the easy mistake of keying www.quest.com (how the brand name is pronounced), since you'll finish up looking at the site of Quest Software, an IT company that specializes in 'smart system management'.
The Qwest internet service comes in a range of speed options for different types of users. You can also sign up for a TV and phone service as part of a bundle that should work out cheaper than buying everything separately.
Qwest high speed internet comes as a DSL service and all plans have Microsoft Windows Live to handle messaging and email as well as allowing online access to the home phone service. There's also an online backup service to keep data secure, access to AT&T's wifi network and you can view an internet provider list for your area so you can choose the one you want to join. With the service availability not being country-wide, there's a zip code checker so you can see if coverage applies in your area.
The company received seven 'Best in Class' honors in the ATLANTIC-ACM Carrier Excellence Awards in 2009. It also got three 'Partner of the Year' awards from Cisco the same year following numerous awards in previous years. Customer comments aren't as complimentary, with various complaints of poor service. There are particular grumblings about over-charging and long contracts that customers weren't aware of at signup. This does fit in with past history, with a $20 million fine in 2002 for switching its phone customers to a long distance service without their permission and allegations of lying to customers by Utah's Division of Consumer Protection the same year. The company paid refunds to Arizona customers the following year for overcharging and was fined $26 million by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for making illegal anti-competitive agreements.
In August 2009, the company's Government Services subsidiary won a $14.2 million contract to upgrade NASA's corporate backbone circuits. However, the turn of the year saw it tipped to be bought out by one of its main rivals or a rural local exchange carrier. †