Qwest Communications International’s board of directors announced that as of yesterday, Thomas Richards was promoted to chief operating officer.

Richards was executive vice president of Qwest’s Business Markets Group (BMG), and he will continue to report to CEO and Chairman Edward Mueller in his new role. Mueller will direct the daily operations of the Business Markets Group (BMG), Mass Markets Organization (MMO), Wholesale, Network, Marketing, Product and IT.

Richards, who joined Qwest in 2005 as executive vice president of BMG, has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. His telecom experience includes his role as executive vice president of communications and information products at Ameritech, where he was responsible for network, wholesale, wireless, video, Internet, security monitoring and more. Before moving to Qwest, he served as chairman, CEO and president of Clear Communications.

Qwest also announced that it’s offering Verizon’s wireless services to all new residential and business customers in its residential service area.

Through the five-year agent agreement announced earlier this year, new Qwest customers can now purchase Verizon Wireless products and services, including handsets, smartphones and BlackBerry devices, as well as high-speed wireless broadband services for e-mail, Internet access and multimedia services, such as mobile music and video.

Qwest said its current customers will soon be notified directly about all of Verizon Wireless’ plans and handset options, and that they are not required to do anything at this time.

In the near future, Qwest said it will begin contacting Qwest Wireless customers with specific Verizon Wireless device and calling plan recommendations. At that time, Qwest will waive the contract termination fees for Qwest Wireless customers who switch to Verizon Wireless sold through Qwest.

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