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Feds say CenturyLink violated anti-monopoly deal in Boise area

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Telecom giant CenturyLink admitted it ignored a deal with the federal government aimed at preventing monopoly power in the Boise area.

The company bought Level 3 Communications in 2017. To make the deal, the company said it would divest some of the newly combined assets to avoid a potential monopoly for business fiber customers in the Treasure Valley. To do so, CenturyLink sold some fiber infrastructure to Syringa Networks.

To approve the deal, the US Department of Justice required the sales and an agreement that CenturyLink wouldn’t try to convince Syringa’s business customers to switch.

But the feds said CenturyLink didn’t keep up its end of the deal – and tried to pick off more than 70 Syringa customers over the course of a year.

[With competition coming, Sparklight cuts prices & data caps — for some users]

Settlement reached

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CenturyLink didn’t deny the allegation and came to a settlement with the government. It will pay $250,000 to cover legal and investigation costs, and will extend the original solicitation agreement. It will also appoint an independent monitor.

“When a defendant violates the terms of a settlement decree, it must be held accountable to its obligations to the department and the American consumer,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said.  “Today’s motion to amend the Final Judgment ensures that consumers get the benefit of competition otherwise lost by CenturyLink’s acquisition of Level 3 Communications.”

The DOJ said CenturyLink cooperated in the investigation.

“While CenturyLink disagrees with the government’s characterization of the alleged violations, we were pleased with the cooperative partnership of the Department of Justice in reaching a resolution that was in the best interest of all parties,” CenturyLink spokesperson Mark Molzen told the Wall Street Journal.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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