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Qwest Slams AT&T-SBC Merger

Qwest Communications International Inc., the regional phone company seeking to acquire MCI Inc., is opposing the planned $16 billion merger of AT&T Corp. and SBC Communications Inc.


Denver-based Qwest claims the AT&T-SBC combination would hurt retail and wholesale customers by driving up prices, reducing service quality, and resulting in less choice and innovation. Qwest also said the pending merger threatens competition from wireless, VoIP and other broadband technologies.


In comments filed Monday with the FCC, Qwest called on federal regulators to require AT&T to divest overlapping operations in SBCs 13-state territory.


SBC proposes to acquire its largest competitor and greatest strategic threat, Steve Davis, senior vice president of public policy with Qwest, said in a statement. It is inconceivable that this transaction could be in the public interest without the imposition of significant conditions and required divestitures.


Qwest is slamming San Antonio, Texas-based SBC at the same time it is battling with Verizon Communications Inc. to acquire MCI, the second largest long-distance carrier behind AT&T.


Qwest seems to be of two minds, says SBC spokesman Mike Balmoris. They want to merge with MCI, but they dont want us to merge with AT&T.


Qwest has said a Qwest-MCI merger would face less scrutiny from regulators than if Verizon acquired MCI. Verizon, the biggest phone company in the United States, has challenged that claim and says MCI would be better off merging with a healthier company.



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