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March 14, 2006 at 10:46 AM

Embarqing on a new business

Washington state regulators today approved Sprint Nextel’s request to spin-off its local wireline phone business into a separate company, known as Embarq.

Sprint provides local phone service to about 7.4 million lines in 18 states. In Washington, Sprint serves about 60,000 residential and business customers in Hood Canal, Port Angeles, Quilcene, Brinnon and Poulsbo areas of Western Washington and many communities in south central Washington, including Stevenson, Goldendale, Granger, Sunnyside, White Swan, Mattawa, Grandview, Prosser, Toppenish, Wapato and Zillah.

The state regulators said existing Washington customers of Sprint Nextel will not experience any service changes or price increases when the local phone service separates and becomes Embarq. The name change should be complete by June.

Embarq, based in Overland Park, Kan., will be led by Dan Hesse, who used to be chief executive of Terabeam, the Kirkland-based broadband wireless provider that attracted huge investments by shooting data through the air using lasers. Early last year, he sold the company to Falls Church, Va.-based YDI. Before that, he spent three years as chief executive at Redmond-based AT&T Wireless and 20 years at AT&T

.

Hesse said in a Q&A with us last year that he will spearhead an effort to make what’s become Embarq more attractive to consumers as wireless, cable and other industries compete to offer the same services. Here are his thoughts from that interview.

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