State regulators in New Mexico have ordered Qwest Communications to restore service immediately to “critical” enduser customers of voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) provider SkyWi who were disconnected as a result of SkyWi’s failure to satisfy $1.7 million in payments it owes to the regional Bell operating company. Along with subsidiaries One Connect and Zianet, SkyWi offers VoIP and other web-based services to customers in Arizona, Idaho, Texas, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, where it ranks as the state’s largest independent ISP. On December 30, Qwest began disconnecting SkyWi customers, thus following through on a November threat that it would shut down service unless SkyWi demonstrated “a show of good faith” that it would pay $1.7 million in charges that have accumulated since September. Qwest also said it would delay a shutdown if SkyWi paid at least a third of what it owed by January 2, but Qwest reportedly received no response to that offer. Meanwhile, SkyWi—which filed suit against Qwest on December 5 on claims that Qwest is using its monopoly power in the local exchange market to drive SkyWi out of business— contends that it made a “reasonable and fair” offer to Qwest to avoid service interruption while the federal court considers its complaint. (SkyWi is also seeking a preliminary injunction that would bar Qwest from shutting down service or taking other punitive actions against SkyWi). At an emergency meeting on December 31, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) approved an order requiring Qwest to stop all service disconnections by 8 AM on January 1 and to immediately restore service to “critical” SkyWi customers that include hospitals, schools, police departments and government offices. While taking issue with what it called the NMPRC’s “improper assertion of jurisdiction over the disconnection issues pending in federal court,” Qwest nevertheless confirmed that it is “diligently proceeding towards rapid reconnection” in compliance with the NMPRC’s directive.