FCC approves BellSouth long distance request

BellSouth Corp. has been given the all-clear by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to begin selling long-distance service to its business and residential customers in five southern U.S. states, the FCC and BellSouth said in separate releases Wednesday.

BellSouth submitted applications in June to begin offering service in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a regional Bell operating company must prove there is competition for local services within a state before it is allowed to offer long-distance services in that state.

The FCC approved BellSouth's application to begin selling long distance in Georgia and Louisiana in May. The approval of the additional five on Wednesday, representing approximately 35 percent of BellSouth's phone lines, brings the total number of BellSouth states approved to offer long distance to seven, BellSouth said in its release. The seven represent about 60 percent of total customer lines in the company. BellSouth has not sought FCC approval to sell long distance in only two states in its region, Florida and Tennessee.

The FCC's approval of BellSouth's multi-state application promises substantial benefits for the states' consumers in the form of enhanced competition in both the local and long distance markets, the FCC release said.

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