Qwest Corrals Oklahoma Contract

Qwest Communications International , a Denver telecommunications company working to regain its footing after a trying 2002, has inked a multi-year contract with the state of Oklahoma. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Under the deal, Qwest will provide voice, data and video services for Oklahoma’s statewide network, OneNet, which links public schools, colleges and universities, libraries, government offices, courts and health care facilities.

“OneNet has provided the high-speed infrastructure to support a variety of initiatives,” said Kurt Snodgrass, OneNet’s COO.

Among the most imporant, Snodgrass said, is distance learning and research. OneNet ties into Abilene Internet2, a nationwide Internet protocol research and education network connecting nearly 200 colleges and universities.

Cliff Holtz, a Qwest executive vice president, said state and local governments are an important part of the company’s customer mix.

Qwest, which serves 14 western states, is looking to right itself in 2003. After an accounting probe last year, the company restated earnings from 1999 to 2001, slicing off nearly $1.1 billion of transactions.

The company had incorrectly accounted for sales of optical capacity assets as well as some equipment transactions. The revelations forced out CEO Joseph Naccio.

Qwest is still working to restore its reputation. Earlier this week, Naccio’s replacement, Richard Notebaert, stressed that a practice that artificially boosted the company’s sales numbers did not appear on the company’s financial statements in 2002.

Meanwhile, it is watching developments in Washington, where the Federal Trade Commission is considering eliminating regulations that require Qwest and other Bells to rent lines and facilities to competitors at wholesale prices.

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