Realizing that its businesses were diverging, U.S. West divided its stock and its operations into two separate entities - U.S. West Communications and U.S. West Media - which are both still controlled by the parent company. U.S. West Communications represents the company's core business that was created through the 1984 break-up of AT&T. The company currently provides local service to about 25 million customers in 14 states. With the recent deregulation of the industry, however, the company will soon be looking to enter the lucrative long-distance market. At the same time, new technology will allow the company to benefit from its network of fiber-optic cable by sending television, paging, and other signals over the wires.
U.S. West Media Group is currently smaller than its sibling company, but is growing more quickly. The company provides domestic and international cable television services to more than 26 million homes, thanks in large part to its recent acquisition of Media One, the third-largest cable company in the U. S. (see separate entry). The company plans to upgrade its cable system, beginning in Denver, so that it will be able to provide multimedia services through the cable lines. U.S. West Media also offers cellular phone services in the U.S., Europe, and Asia through U.S. West New Vector and joint ventures with other companies.
Recently, U.S. West has taken steps to expand its services and to cooperate with competitors. In mid-2000, the company announced plans to extend its services beyond its 14-state region by entering the California market. U.S. West has also teamed with VirtualTek Corporation/Joydesk.com to augment its wireless web services. Finally, U.S. West has agreed to share its phone lines with 13 leading local providers in its 14-state region, and with competitor Rhythms NetConnections.
Allegations of poor customer service have consistently plagued U.S. West. In 1999, AT&T accused the company of providing marginal telephone service as a result of its inappropriately large focus on the multimedia market. Although U.S. West officials denied such charges, the allegations of ineptitude certainly are not new occurrences; the company has been repeatedly fined for its poor service in past years. The company faces additional legal problems. In January 2000, a Colorado civil case accused U.S. West of misleading customers and of failing to provide adequate service. Three months later, a lawsuit was filed in New Mexico that could involve up to 100,000 New Mexicans. The lawsuit indicated that U.S. West had failed to provide basic telephone service.
In July 1999, the competition between QWest Communications International and Global Crossing to take over U.S. West ended; QWest's hostile takeover bid succeeded. All but two states in U.S. West's 14-state region have already approved of the merger. The resulting QWest-U.S. West alliance will employ 64,000 employees worldwide.
U.S. West operates a single employment Web page for its two operating companies. The Web page, located at http://www.uswest.com/about/jobs/index.html, lists openings both at the corporate headquarters in Colorado and at locations throughout the western U. S. Many of the openings are in technical positions, but there are also openings in sales, marketing, and other fields. The Web page provides the correct address to which one should either mail or fax one's resume, and provides information on college recruiting. Applicants can also take advantage of an on-line program to submit their resumes electronically.
U.S. West's recent reorganization created some "short-term turmoil," but employees say that it has also opened up "long-term opportunities." U.S. West fosters an "open" and "customer-oriented" atmosphere in which the communication channels operate "successfully." While some point out that the confusion resulting from the corporate restructuring has increased the "rigidity" of the corporate bureaucracy, others contend that the recent changes "will enable everyone to be more productive." All employees agree that the company's "manageable" work week and "reasonable" expectations enable employees to maintain a "life outside of work." In addition, those in the Colorado headquarters (home to both the Communication and Media businesses) point out that their location permits them to take advantage of the "breathtaking" Rocky Mountain wilderness.
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