Pole position: Qwest has to pay to move Arizona phone lines

Sorry Qwest, but if we ask you to move your telephone lines in our city, you're going to have to pay to move them. The Arizona Court of Appeals took this position when Qwest sued Chandler, Ariz., for not paying it back when it had to move lines due to a construction project. Citing an 1877 territorial law, Qwest argued that telecom service providers and utility companies don't have to pay for relocation costs.

Although Appeals Court Judge Donn Kessler recognized the 1877 law, he pointed to an even older common-law rule that says the utility company, not the city, must pay for any relocation costs. In addition, Kessler and fellow judges rejected the argument that the city was infringing on Qwest's property rights. The court said that the city is not preventing Qwest from leveraging the city's rights of way.

The lawsuit originated when the city told Qwest it would have to relocate its phone lines at a site the city was redeveloping in 2004. Qwest, of course, sued the city. Citing the 1877 law, Qwest argued it should not be required to pay to move the lines.

For more:
- Arizona Business Gazette has this article

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