Friday, May 2, 2008


Chances are, you’ve heard of a little company called Qwest. Well, okay, they’re not exactly that little – they have over 40,000 employees – but that isn’t the point. What is the point here is whether such a company that’s been thriving for over a decade in the telecommunications industry is worth subscribing to.

And boy, is it.

For a modest fee of $475/month, you receive a fully dedicated 1.5Mbps T1 line with Qwest. The router and installation is included with your subscription (aka – it’s free), and it’s usually installed within a maximum time frame of 45 days. The company’s commitments are great, with a 99.9% guarantee for on-net and off-net network availability, data delivery, and throughput. Their maximum latency is better than most other providers, with a roundtrip time of 50ms, allowing for a maximum packet loss of only 0.05%. And, of course, you have the standard 4 hours maximum commitment for restoration.

This all sounds pretty good so far. It’s no wonder how they manage to keep over 6.5 million customers over their wide range of services.

But what's the downside? There are two major issues with Qwest:

The first issue is that Qwest is a complete and utter mess of a company and they have been for a very long time. Even though they have been improved over the past 10 years they are still a train wreck. One wonders if they even have a backoffice or if they're just winging it. This is a result of very poor upper management. Qwest could very well win the prize for being the most disorganized company in history. Their order forms are excessively complex and long, their contracts are a mess, their back office is a mess, and one hand has no idea what the other hand is doing. Billing is also a disaster. It is not uncommon for Qwest to bill and suspend customers on bill disputes and fees that the customer does not owe. Qwest cannot seem to cancel accounts even when they are notified correctly of cancellations. Qwest is also quick to grant credit to big promising "pie-in-the-sky" scam artist dot com companies that have ended up swindling them of tens of millions of dollars but then deny honest hardworking small businesses much needed credit.

The other issue is their maintenance. Though this may not affect many businesses, and Qwest does notify you if they need to, the company does state that their may be regular (albeit “occasional”) maintenance on their systems. They state that their maintenance window is usually between 3am and 7am of the customer’s local time, which shouldn’t get in the way of effective business, but you never know – yours may need to pull all-nighters to finish up a project. That’s really the only thing to keep in mind, especially with businesses dealing with multiple international relations.

The good: A decent, dedicated T1 line. Qwest provides a range of incredible commitments for a good monthly price. You get a free router and the installation of that router, and the package includes all the necessities of VoIP, shared hosting, etc.

The bad: Being a larger company, it may come as no surprise that some customers have spoken of “more” maintenance than usual. I guess that’s why they actually have a note in regards to their maintenance schedule, which might be a bad thing for a few businesses needing long, late shifts. Billing and back office is a disaster. If you can deal with these headaches and one hand not knowing what the other is doing, by all means use Qwest. If not, run, dont walk.

The bottom line: If you are a larger corporation who can deal with Qwest's shortcomings and want a good, well-known, stable provider, Qwest is the way to go. Seriously, 6.5 million members can’t be wrong.