Thousands of internet and phone customers in six states across the southwest and in the Rockies had no service this New Years Eve, due to some good old fashioned telecom hardball. q which is of course the incumbent provider in the region unceremoniously disconnected wireless internet provider SkyWi, ostensibly for nonpayment of bills. SkyWi competes directly with Qwest for retail customers, and uses Qwest’s wholesale services as part of its network. Of course, both sides claim to be the reasonable one.
SkyWi says they made a ‘reasonable and fair offer to avoid interruption of service’, and Qwest says they emailed an offer of an extension if a third of the bill the night before. It certainly seems that the problem is monetary, even if SkyWi is claiming abuse of monopoly power. If SkyWi is short of cash and can’t raise more, perhaps the credit crisis is about to take down an ISP? Or is this dispute over the correctness of the bill itself, i.e. is SkyWi claiming that Qwest is overbilling in an effort to drive them out of business? So far, it is hard to tell, if any readers know the details, please leave a comment!
Well whichever it is, the interruption in service is over, though the repercussions on SkyWi’s business probably aren’t. Of course, Qwest acted knowing full well that it wouldn’t last long. The New Mexico PRC held an emergency meeting and ordered Qwest to reconnect the company by the morning of New Year’s Day. And presumably that happened, but the message Qwest was sending to customers of SkyWi had already been delivered so I doubt they were too fussed about it. Now nothing will happen until Jan 13, when a decision is due on SkyWi’s request for a preliminary injunction against the disconnection. But all this of course is about maintaining the status quo until the billing dispute is resolved.
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