MANHASSET, N.Y. The Federal Communications Commission approved the proposed acquisition of MCI Inc. by Verizon Communications Inc. after concluding the transaction advances the public interest.
The approval comes days after the U.S. Dept. of Justice cleared the Verizon-MCI combination following a comprehensive, eight-month review, and after approval by the European Commission and MCI’s shareholders
earlier this month.
The action now shifts toward a handful of states where approvals are still pending.
Executives of both companies anticipate that they can close the transaction, announced on Feb. 14, later this year or early in 2006.
"After two federal reviews and strong approvals by shareholders and the international community, it is clear that this combination is undeniably in the public interest," said Tom Tauke, Verizon executive vice president of public affairs, policy and communications, in a statement. "The Dept. of Justice and FCC approvals put us on firm footing as we seek the remaining few state approvals."
As part of the FCC approval, Verizon and MCI committed to continue rolling out Verizon's stand-alone DSL service, continue adhering to "network neutrality" principles adopted by the FCC earlier this year, cap temporarily certain special access and UNE rates, and maintain for a period of time the current number of settlement-free Internet peering arrangements.
On Thursday, the DOJ filed for approval by a federal court a consent decree that includes stipulations agreed to by Verizon and MCI. Under the decree, Verizon and MCI will lease unused fiber connections to 356 buildings in several states in Verizon’s East Coast territory.
Fiber currently being used to serve customers will not be affected.