Qwest pulling plug on SkyWi; NM PRC emergency session on Thursday morning

SkyWi's public drama continues, as Qwest said it will notify the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission on Thursday that it is pulling the plug on SkyWi's network connections in 10 business days. SkyWi and its subsidiaries ZiaNet and OneConnect will be affected. The New Mexico PRC is holding an emergency session on Thursday morning to determine what, if anything, can be done next to aid the transition of 6,000 voice customers.

New Mexico state regulators are expected to order Qwest to keep services up to critical health and safety agencies until they can be transferred to another provider. SkyWi is currently is past due on more than $2 million dollars it owes to Qwest, and Qwest first pulled the plug on SkyWi's lines in late December when SkyWi was $1.7 million in the hole and refusing to pay its bills due to "predatory, anti-competitive and unfair trade practices." The resulting service interruption affected thousands of customers across New Mexico and led to the NM PRC stepping in to order Qwest to turn back up services at the beginning of January.

On Wed., Feb. 11, SkyWi dropped its motion in federal court for an injunction to stop Qwest from shutting down services. In addition, a federal judge agreed to move SkyWi's anti-competitive suit out of a New Mexico court to Qwest's home turf in Colorado. Since the suit wasn't dismissed out of hand, SkyWi views this as a victory of sorts, but Qwest would appear to be on more solid ground moving forward since its contracts clearly state that billing disputes should be litigated in Colorado.

SkyWi has also taken offense to the NM PRC's characterization that the company is going out of business in New Mexico due to a lack of finances. Instead, the company says it is existing the physical networking business and will tear down its 33 rural POPs delivering Internet to rural areas. Service will be provided virtually through third-parties.

Meanwhile, local, regional and national VoIP providers are rushing to pick up SkyWi customers in New Mexico with some asserting they can have businesses cut over within 3 to 5 business days while saving on monthly bills.

For more:
- Las Cruces Sun-News reports. Article.
- SkyWi notes lawsuit venue moved, goes virtual. Release.

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