Bells get FCC OK to merge units

The Federal Communications Commission snuck one in before the long Labor Day weekend, ruling late Friday that the former Bell companies--AT&T, Verizon Communications and Qwest Communications--no longer will be forced to run their local and long-distance operations as separate units, and may merge these operations.

It's another brick in the process of rebuilding the original Ma Bell, or at least three smaller versions of the old Ma Bell, that ran every service out of a single operation and dominated the whole market. It will be interesting to see, as everyone recovers from the last lazy weekend of summer, how much of a stir this approval creates.

Opponents to such a move may be fewer and farther between than they used to be, partly because the Bells can easily argue that merging local, long-distance and even wireless units makes more sense in a world of converged technology and services.

For More:
- The Wall Street Journal has this story (Sub. req.),
- Forbes has posted an AP piece with more details

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