Washington regulators unanimously approved the merger of Qwest and CenturyLink, despite a number of public comments opposing the deal.
The approval by the state Utlilities and Transportation Commission finalizes an agreement negotiated in December, under which CenturyLink will cap residential phone rates for three years and spend at least $80 million expanding broadband service.
The companies have 15 days to object to the conditions imposed by the UTC.
Merger costs cannot be passed on to ratepayers, savings must be reported to the UTC and CenturyLInk must reduce fees charged to other carriers, which could lead to lower long-distance rates for in-state calls.
Before voting on the agreement, the UTC received 95 public comments — seven in favor, 51 opposed and 37 undecided or neutral, according to a UTC release.
Monroe, La.-based CenturyLink will serve about 1.5 million lines in Washington after the merger closes, including 1.3 million lines now served by Qwest.
The $10.6 billion merger was announced last April. It’s been approved by 20 states and the Department of Justice. Oregon regulators and the Federal Communications Commission are still reviewing the deal, which is expected to close April 1.