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Qwest Communications (s Q), the regional telephone provider, is looking to sell its long-haul network, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. The company, which has $14 billion in debt, wants to continue its consumer last-mile business, which serves 11.6 million customers. However, without a wireless business (Qwest resells Verizon Wireless) the nation’s third-largest phone company has little to fall back on as landline losses accelerate and faster cable connections lure consumers away from DSL.
The long-haul network, which serves businesses and governments, brought Qwest $3.27 billion in sales during 2008. Potential bidders for the network are other long-haul network companies, including Level 3 Communications (s LVLT), AT&T (s T) and Verizon (s VZ). This would be a big move for a company that has been fairly cautious about transformative deals, but it may not be enough to keep Qwest relevant in a world where wireless broadband will soon be a large part of any carriers’ broadband strategy.