CenturyLink said customers have chosen wireless and broadband services.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

July 23, 2021

2 Min Read

CenturyLink wants to ease rules on landline service repairs, saying the vast majority of customers have moved on to wireless and broadband.

One state rejected this proposal this week.

CenturyLink is Minnesota’s largest landline phone provider. It petitioned the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to modify or eliminate portions of the state’s telephone quality of service rules. The regulations cover customer service response times.

CenturyLink said policy considerations demand that broadband, and not legacy landline voice service, should be the priority in Minnesota.

CenturyLink points to a number of changes in the telecom marketplace in recent decades:

  • Subscriptions to traditional landline voice service provided by LECs has plummeted in the last 20 years at an annual rate of 13%.

  • Nearly four-fifths of voice connections are wireless.

  • CenturyLink has lost nearly 85% of its voice telephone service access lines since 2001.

  • Only 4.4% of Minnesota households rely on landline for voice service.

  • In 2020, Century lost 15.8% of its remaining access lines.

Broadband Should Be Higher Priority

CenturyLink said customers have chosen wireless and broadband services. And the objective to repair 95% of outages within 24 hours requires CenturyLink to spend an inordinate amount of its technical resources on traditional landline service, nine times the technician time spent on repair and installation of broadband facilities.

The Commission voted unanimously to deny CenturyLink’s petition.


CenturyLink’s Mark Molzen

“We are disappointed that the Commission did not agree that it is time to update rules that are over 40 years old — put in place before the existence of cellphones or the internet,” said Mark Molzen, CenturyLink spokesperson. “Leaving these legacy rules in place does not serve the broad public interest or provide the state-of-the-art communications products and services that customers now demand.”

For and Against

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and Department of Commerce both recommended against the changes.

Frontier Communications supported CenturyLink’s petition. It said customers prioritize broadband over voice services and the service restoration rule results in broadband repair taking a back seat to voice service repair.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) represents more than 900 telecommunications technicians and customer service representatives in Minnesota. It asked the Commission to deny CenturyLink’s petition, saying it must continue to maintain its copper network on which its customers in most areas of the state still depend for their essential communications services.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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