WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 -- The Federal Communications Commission today approved Verizon Communications Inc. and SBC Communications Inc.'s planned acquisitions of MCI and AT&T, respectively, giving the companies the final federal approval they need to complete their multibillion-dollar takeovers of the telecommunications giants.
Verizon's $8.6 billion purchase of MCI Inc. and SBC's $16 billion buyout of AT&T Corp will give New York-based Verizon and San Antonio-based SBC control of the two biggest long-distance providers in the country. The FCC did attach some conditions to the mergers, requiring that SBC and Verizon freeze the wholesale prices they charge competitors to lease business lines for 30 months and saying they had to guarantee that they will sell their Internet access as a stand-alone service for two years and not part of a bundled package, so customers aren't forced to buy local phone service as well. The companies also can't block customers' access to rival Internet services for two years. Last week the Justice Department's antitrust division required that the new companies lease fiber optic networks serving business customers to at least one competitor in cities including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Analysts say that, with the mergers, Verizon and SBC will control 49 percent of the $145 billion business telephone market. Sprint Nextel Corp., BellSouth and Qwest have six percent each. Verizon has said its purchase of MCI will probably close by January. SBC says it will retain the better-known name of AT&T after its takeover is completed later this year.
For more information, visit: www.verizon.com or www.sbc.com