Qwest Upgrades Utah Network

Qwest Communications International , which is relying heavily on public sector business to mount a comeback, has won a 5-year contract from the state of Utah.

Under the deal, the Denver telecommunications giant will upgrade the Utah Education Network (UEN), a system linking all public schools, colleges and universities in the state.

The UEN core network will be based on Qwest’s GeoMax service, which handles voice and data, plus more bandwidth-intensive applications, namely distance learning.

“This network upgrade will allow teachers in any part of the state to implement programs that far exceed the walls of the classroom,” said Cliff Holtz, executive vice president for Qwest’s business markets group.

The Utah contract mirrors an earlier contract with the state of Oklahoma. Qwest is improving that state’s OneNet, a network connecting public schools, colleges and universities, libraries, government offices, courts and health care facilities.

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.

Earlier this month, Qwest said its annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission will be late because its outside auditor, KPMG, needs more time. The company did not provide a date when it thought the report would be ready.

In addition to accounting questions, Qwest, like its sector-mates was buffeted by a weak economy, driving down demand for its services.

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