Ever since their merger announcement back in April, CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL, news, filings) and q have been rather quiet, busily working behind the scenes cutting through red tape to get approval from everyone they need to get approval from. And that doesn't just mean state PUCs and federal agencies, as shown by today's announcement that they have come to terms with the CLEC Integra Telecom. It's not that they needed approval from the competition (else none of these would ever go through) but rather that Integra could slow them down by challenging the deal in each territory.
Integra Telecom had been worried about service quality during the transition, and especially the uncertain status of its wholesale agreements with both ILECs. While Integra has an extensive fiber footprint in some parts of its territory, they do still lease much of their network facilities from the incumbent and have long been competing head on with Qwest across their territory. Naturally, they have more to fear from a larger, potentially stronger competitor than most in the sector and have therefore been pushing back against it. Two weeks ago they endorsed concerns filed by the DOD about the merger requesting that conditions be attached to ensure no degradation of service.
But in the interests of speed, CenturyLink and Qwest spent the past few months negotiating wholesale conditions with the CLEC, and it appears they succeeded. Integra will no longer oppose the transactions, which will help keep the deal on track to complete in the first half of 2011. This isn't the first such agreement, they have made deals with several other CLECs, interest groups, unions, and the like. It's amazing just how long this sort of thing takes, though. April seems like so long ago, and the spring of 2011 still seems so far away.