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Minnesota regulators blast CenturyLink landline service

July 9, 2021 GMT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota regulators are blasting CenturyLink for its landline customer service at a time when the company is seeking to ease what it calls archaic rules that force it to prioritize landline repairs even though most customers have switched to broadband communications.

“Customer complaints reveal an alarming pattern of regular and extended landline telephone service outages,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a filing with the Public Utilities Commission, the Star Tribune reported. “Given CenturyLink’s seeming lack of attention and indifference to landline customer inquiries, requests and complaints, it is no surprise that customer wait times are an issue.”

The Commerce Department separately said the company “may need to be subject to penalties for violations (of PUC rules) to provide the economic incentive for CenturyLink to update its network and employ adequate staffing.”

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CenturyLink defended itself, saying it has made significant investments to modernize its network while constantly conducting maintenance and repairs.

The state agencies made the filings last week as part of a PUC inquiry into CenturyLink’s landline service. The company separately petitioned the PUC last moth to roll back longstanding regulations covering landline customer service.

CenturyLink has 334,000 landlines in Minnesota. The company says it has lost 85% of its wired phone business in Minnesota since 2001, and that only 4% of Minnesota households rely solely on landlines. The agencies have both recommended that the PUC deny CenturyLink’s request.

Minnesota’s second-largest landline provider, Frontier Communications, supports CenturyLink’s petition.