Qwest, CenturyLink dedicate $50 million to improve Minnesota's broadband infrastructure

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) hopes to have its acquisition of Qwest (NYSE: Q) completed by the end of this year, but Minnesota, for one, wants the service provider to expand broadband in its state.

To meet that broadband deployment goal, the two service providers agreed to spend $50 million over five years to bring broadband to more users in the state reports Twin Cities.

Of course, not everyone agrees that the plan is the best solution. While Qwest spokeswoman Joanna Hjelmeland said the broadband commitment is "significant," broadband industry groups and competitive carriers such as Integra Telecom don't think the deal goes far enough.

"If they're not spending at least $10 million a year on broadband, it's no wonder they're getting their clocks cleaned" by cable competitors, said Christopher Mitchell of the Minneapolis-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit organization that favors local government ownership of broadband.

Integra Telecom, a CLEC that operates in Minnesota and rents lines from Qwest, is concerned that because the new system developed by Qwest, CenturyLink and the Commerce Department does not require independent testing of the new systems needed to be put in place when the service providers complete their integration process.

Karen Clauson, Integra's vice president of law and policy, said that any new system could pose billing and ordering problems, "but when things go wrong, our customers blame us."

For more:
- Twin Cities has this article

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