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Qwest Responds to Complaints About Integrated Access Service

In response to complaints from some Qwest Business Partners, Qwest Communications International Inc. executives this week acknowledged problems with the companys integrated access service and detailed efforts to improve it at the ILECs annual meeting of its indirect sales partners, Q.Marketplace.

At the meeting, held at the Denver Convention Center, some agents commiserated over the ongoing problems associated with the implementation and performance of Qwests integrated access service. The problems prompted one agent to step up to the microphone during a general session and confront presenter Eric Bozich, vice president of national network services, about what the carrier is doing to fix the situation. I have a lot of customers that we have lost relationships with because of the IA, said Justin Bentley for Advanced Business Communications.

We really lost your confidence. Ill own up to that, said Bozich, addressing some 400 Qwest Business Partners that attended the meeting Thursday. We rolled that product out, and I think a lot of you in this room were the first to embrace it and really push it to its limits. You put your necks on the line with us with some of those customers you had. And, the network didnt perform.

In a follow-up interview, Tom McGrath, vice president of alternate channel sales, explained the nature of the problem: We had platform issues, system failures and problems with keeping customers up. We even had problems with the order process. We cleaned up most of that from a technical perspective. It has a lot more redundancy and backup capabilities than before.

About 18 months ago, Bozich said Qwest set out to fix the stability of the product, which pushed out the timeline for feature development. He said the company went back to the root cause and worked with its vendors to fix the problems and understand the pressure points in the network. The result was upgrades and architecture changes. Weve gone to a distributed architecture now. Instead of Houston and Chicago as a failover/backup site, we now have Houston, Chicago, Phoenix and well have Minneapolis, well have D.C. and well have something in California, probably Sunnyvale, he said, noting they will continue to add and scale the network in an effort to spread customers out.

McGrath added that the installation interval was reduced by 35 percent from more than 100 days. He expressed surprise that agents said they were experiencing problems. We are not where we want to be yet. We will continue to work on the installation intervals with a target below 45 days, he said.

Sandy Spencer, regional vice president of sales for QBPP, says that the tremendous sales of the service also dont reflect ongoing problems. In particular, he said, multilocation opportunities are selling like hotcakes.

Bozich said 2007 was the best year in the history of the product, but there is room for improvement. We are not a five 9s product yet, he said. Hopefully with some of the new features, well gain your confidence back.

Qwest rolled out in mid-January compression for IA and hosted VoIP. This will increase the number of lines supported, which currently is limited to 13, so it will serve larger installations. In addition, it will add support for SIP so that it will expand the types of devices that can be used and it will also support NxT1 as well as other enhancements to come later in the year. In July, Qwest expects its hosted VoIP and IA products to be upgraded to work with a private port.

In addition, in March/April, the company plans to bundle the IA product with Ciscos UC-500 VoIP system for small and midsize companies.


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