FCC Reportedly Set to Approve Bell Atlantic, GTE Merger - TheStreet

Updated from 7:47 a.m. EDT

Federal regulators are set to give their blessing to the planned merger of

Bell Atlantic

(BEL)

and

GTE

(GTE) - Get Report

, creating the largest local phone company in the country, the

Washington Post

reported Thursday.

According to the report, four of the five commissioners on the

Federal Communications Commission

indicated Wednesday that they would support the deal. The anticipated merger was announced two years ago. A decision will likely be announced either Thursday or Friday, according to a source close to the process.

The combined company, which will be called

Verizon Communications

, would control about 63 million telephone lines in 31 states, approximately one-third of the total lines in the U.S. The deal will add GTE's 4 million wireless customers to

Verizon Wireless

, the venture formed last year by New York-based Bell Atlantic and Britain's

Vodafone AirTouch

(VOD) - Get Report

, which is already the nation's largest wireless operator.

To satisfy regulators, Irving, Texas-based GTE agreed to spin off its Internet infrastructure company,

Genuity

, through a forthcoming initial public offering.

The combined company will have a market capitalization of close to $150 billion, with $60 billion in revenue while employing 260,000 people.

Dave Frail, a spokesman for Bell Atlantic, said, "We believe we have addressed all concerns raised by the FCC, and we are confident we can complete a deal by the end of the month."

Bell Atlantic shares were down 5/16, or 1%, at 57 1/16, while GTE shares were up 1/4 at 69 in midday trading. (Bell Atlantic closed down 13/16, or 1%, at 56 9/16 while GTE finished up 115/256, or 1%, at 69 51/256.)