Denver-based telecommunications firm Qwest Communications International Inc. reported Tuesday that it has promoted Thomas E. Richards to chief operating officer. Qwest described Richards as a 30-year veteran of the telecommunications industry who previously served as chairman, chief executive officer and president of Clear Communications. Richards, Qwest said, had served as executive vice president of its Business Markets Group since joining the company in 2005. In his new role, Qwest noted, Richards will supervise the daily operations of three business units: the Mass Markets Organization; Wholesale, Network, Marketing, Product and IT; and the aforementioned Business Markets Group. He will also report to Edward A. Mueller, Qwest's chairman and chief executive officer.