DOJ approves Bell Atlantic, GTE merger

The Justice Department today approved the merger between Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp., with an agreement by the companies to get rid of their overlapping cellular and personal communications service (PCS) wireless businesses.

With the DOJ ruling, the companies have cleared an important hurdle in their effort to combat arguments that the merger would violate antitrust laws. However, the merger still awaits approval from the Federal Communications Commission and various state commissions.

"This is the first hurdle we have to cross," said a GTE spokesman. "The detractors of the merger have brought [antitrust] concerns to the FCC and the state public utility commissions. The fact is that the experts have now spoken, and they have cleared the merger."

The spokesman added that both companies had known when they proposed the merger that they would have to tailor their wireless business lines to comply with laws that place a cap on ownership of the cellular and PCS spectrums.

Both companies hold an extensive portfolio of federal contracts, and observers in the government and private sector have said that a combined entity would be a strong contender for federal telecommunications and systems integration contracts.

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