Regulators in Maine, Vermont and New York have approved the proposed merger of two of the country's largest local exchange carriers, NYNEX and Bell Atlantic Corp.
All three states imposed similar conditions on their approval designed to protect the interests of ratepayers in the region. The conditions also address concern over how the merger might affect competition in the local exchange market, a high-profile regulatory effort already under way in each state.
Vermont and Maine. In approving the plan, the Maine Public Utilities Commission found that the likelihood of financial benefits to ratepayers from the merger should outweigh the "speculative detrimental effects that will be caused by the possible lessening of competition by the removal of one of the potential competitors to NYNEX."
Both the Maine commission and the Vermont Public Service Board required, as a condition to the merger, that New England Telephone and Telegraph Co. meet by Sept. 30 the "competitive checklist" laid out in Section 271 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. (The checklist was designed to test whether a Bell operating company has properly opened its system to competition to justify entry into the interLATA toll market. The list requires a carrier to offer specific interconnection services and access to local facilities.)