FCC approves SBC-AT&T, Verizon-MCI unions - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

FCC approves SBC-AT&T, Verizon-MCI unions

WASHINGTON (AP) - Government regulators on Monday approved SBC Communications' takeover of AT&T and Verizon Communications' purchase of MCI, removing the final federal hurdle for the multibillion-dollar deals.

By 4-0 votes, the Federal Communications Commission said yes to the mergers but added several conditions. Among them, it required that SBC and Verizon freeze the wholesale prices they charge competitors to lease high-capacity business lines and to guarantee that they will sell their Internet access as a stand-alone service so customers aren't forced to buy local phone service as well.

Several state regulatory agencies still must sign off on the deals.

SBC's acquisition of AT&T is valued at $16 billion; the Verizon-MCI deal is said to be worth about $8.5 billion.

The FCC approval came after a weekend of negotiations. The commission had scheduled a vote for last Friday at the agency's monthly meeting, but then postponed it to continue talks.

The Justice Department cleared the mergers last week, with more limited conditions than those placed on the companies by the FCC. Critics of the deals had complained that asset sales in overlapping areas were needed to ensure healthy competition in the industry, but federal regulators declined to approve selloffs for either company.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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