Qwest acquires Touch America assets

FRAMINGHAM (11/14/2003) - Qwest Communications International Inc. this week said it will purchase frame relay and ATM assets from Touch America Holdings Inc., a bankrupt service provider Qwest has been in litigation with.

Qwest also said it will purchase from service provider 360networks Corp. certain assets that help extend the Qwest nationwide high-speed data network. 360networks acquired nearly all the assets of Touch America shortly after Touch America filed for bankruptcy last June.

The agreement resolves all outstanding disputes between Qwest and Touch America and 360networks regarding these assets, according to Qwest.

The deals also allow Qwest to offer ATM and frame relay data services to customers within its 14-state region. Qwest was recently granted approval to offer long-distance network services within its region, and many of these customers already use Qwest frame relay and ATM services outside of its region, the carrier says.

As part of the agreement, Qwest will purchase from 360networks the following fiber routes: Seattle to Billings, MT.; Billings to Denver; Denver to Colorado Springs, CO.; and Billings to Minneapolis.

Pending bankruptcy court approval, the agreement is expected to close before year-end.

Qwest and Touch America have been in dispute since 2000, when Qwest sold its long-distance business in 14 states to Touch America. Touch America alleged Qwest was illegally continuing to offer long-distance service within the region, and the two have had multimillion-dollar arbitration, billing and wireless asset purchase disputes over the years.

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