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BRIEFLY / TELECOMMUNICATIONS

FCC Approves Bell Atlantic-Voda fone Venture

March 31, 2000|Bloomberg News

Bell Atlantic Corp. and Vodafone AirTouch won Federal Communications Commission approval for their U.S. wireless joint venture, which would create the country's largest mobile phone company, with 21 million customers. The FCC's decision is the final regulatory review for the combination that will establish a nationwide network with almost twice as many customers as AT&T Corp., which has more than 12.2 million wireless customers. Bell Atlantic, the second-largest U.S. local phone company, and Vodafone, the world's largest wireless company, said they expect to save $7.4 billion from lower costs and volume equipment purchases. The FCC approved the venture after the companies agreed to sell overlapping cellular phone operations in several southwestern states. In a separate action, the FCC approved VoiceStream Wireless Corp.'s purchase of Aerial Communications Inc., creating another national mobile phone company. VoiceStream-Aerial will use the wireless technology adopted by European carriers and not compatible with systems used by Bell Atlantic-Vodafone. Shares of Bell Atlantic fell 74 cents to close at $61.25 and Vodafone's American depositary receipts fell $1.88 to close at $55.13 on the NYSE. The FCC announced its decision after the market closed.

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