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Bell Atlantic, GTE Seek FCC Delay on Merger

April 15, 1999|Reuters

Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp. asked federal regulators to delay consideration of their $52-billion merger until the companies prepare a revised proposal for dealing with GTE's Internet and long-distance businesses. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission obtained by Reuters, the companies asked the agency to ignore a request they made in February that a law prohibiting Bell Atlantic from owning the businesses not be enforced for two years. Under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the regional Bell companies are prohibited from offering long-distance voice or Internet data calls within their regions until they prove they have opened their local networks to competitors. Bell Atlantic has not received authority from the FCC to offer such services in any of its 13-state region, but is only months away from filing a formal application covering New York state. The companies told the FCC they would file a revised proposal after Bell Atlantic files that application with the agency. Under the February proposal, the companies had asked to be allowed to keep GTE's fast-growing Internet backbone business for two years while Bell Atlantic applied for permission to operate such a business in each of its states. The merger also must be approved by the Justice Department and several states.

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