U.S. DOJ sets conditions for Verizon, SBC acquisitions

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved two major telecommunications mergers, with Verizon buying MCI and SBC buying AT&T, but will require the two merged telecom giants to divest some fiber-optic network facilities, the DOJ said Thursday.

The acquisitions, as originally proposed, would have caused higher prices for some business customers in eight metropolitan areas in Verizon's territory and 11 metropolitan areas in SBC's territory, the DOJ said.

But the agency also seemed to reject arguments made by some other telecom carriers and consumer groups, who said the two mergers would drive up prices for most customers. The DOJ's investigation found that the acquisitions are "likely to generate substantial efficiencies that should benefit consumers," the agency said in a press release.

The four companies applauded the DOJ's actions. The proposed settlement will result in no disruption to MCI customers, according to a Verizon statement.

"The Justice Department has a comprehensive view of the state of the communications industry, and its decision reflects a fair and impartial determination that, with these narrowly tailored conditions, the merger of SBC and AT&T will not harm competition,

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