Bell Atlantic wins court OK to start long-distance service

Appeals court rejects rivals' request to halt entry into N.Y. market

Telephones

January 05, 2000|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON -- Bell Atlantic Corp., the No. 2 U.S. local telephone company, can proceed with plans to sell long-distance service in New York, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday in a decision that was a clear setback for two competitors.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a request by AT&T Corp. and Covad Communications Group Inc. to delay Bell Atlantic's service until the court completes a review of the Federal Communications Commission's unanimous order authorizing the service.

The companies had argued that the FCC should have rejected Bell Atlantic's application because the company had not fully opened its local market as required by law.

In a two-page order, a three-judge panel unanimously said AT&T and Covad "have not satisfied the stringent standards required for a stay pending appeal." The appeals court set a schedule to consider the AT&T and Covad appeal later this year.

Bell Atlantic plans to begin selling its long-distance service in New York state today, offering rates as low as 5 cents a minute without monthly fees for customers who sign up on the Internet.

"We've said all along that AT&T's stay request was nothing more than a last-ditch effort to block competition, and that there's nothing to AT&T's claims," said Michael E. Glover, associate general counsel for Bell Atlantic.

Shares of New York-based Bell Atlantic finished down $1.9375 to close at $58 yesterday, after falling as low as $57.25 in trading of 5 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

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