CenturyLink Must Follow New Mexico’s Service Quality and Consumer Protection Rules

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Santa Fe, N.M – The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) has rejected CenturyLink’s attempts to avoid its responsibility to provide quality residential telecommunications service to all New Mexicans.

In a decision issued on October 30, the Commissioners determined that continuing to regulate CenturyLink was necessary to ensure that the company maintains and repairs its telecommunications infrastructure. In addition, last week, in a separate case, a NMPRC hearing officer rejected CenturyLink’s claim that it should be exempt from regulation. The officer agreed with CWA that CenturyLink failed to show that there is “effective competition” for residential phone service in the markets they serve.

“This is a big victory for over 100,000 New Mexicans who continue to rely on residential phone service, particularly in rural areas” said Brenda Roberts, CWA District 7 Vice President. “We have seen the disastrous effects of deregulation in other states. CWA members at CenturyLink are pleased that the Commission is holding CenturyLink accountable for providing service to our customers.”

CWA played a major role in the October 30 decision and the hearing officer’s recommendation. CWA provided testimony to the Commission, including photos of substandard facilities, and CWA members attended the Commission’s hearing. CWA also provided expert witnesses and submitted briefs rebutting CenturyLink’s claim of “effective competition.”

The Commission rejected CenturyLink's attempts to water down the proposed rules (e.g. eliminating the customer service response time requirements), and it also agreed to strengthen some requirements that were proposed by CWA or the other parties. For example, they lowered the trouble report rate from 18% to 12% and added additional data that the Commission is required to collect when customers file complaints.

The NMPRC Order states: "CenturyLink admits that some of the photographs provided by the CWA indicate 'substandard repairs' and 'unacceptable work.' CenturyLink does not explain how lower levels of quality of service regulation will remedy such deficiencies. The Commission finds that robust quality of service regulation is more likely to encourage CenturyLink to maintain and repair its wireline infrastructure."

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