The Justice Department cleared two huge telecom mergers, paving the way for them to close in coming months. The Justice Department said Thursday afternoon that SBC's ( SBC) acquisition of AT&T ( T) and Verizon's ( VZ) buy of MCI ( MCIP) had passed antitrust muster. The news came on the same day that SBC said it would change the name of the merged company to AT&T, and Verizon posted a 4.7% earnings gain for the third quarter. Under its agreement with antitrust regulators, Verizon said it and MCI will lease dark, or unused, fiber connections to 356 buildings in several states in the Verizon footprint on the East Coast. Fiber currently being used by MCI to serve its customers will not be affected. SBC said it and AT&T agreed to provide access to certain buildings in SBC's operating territory where AT&T has fiber and the two companies are the only providers with facilities serving those buildings. The companies must now secure approval for their deals from the Federal Communications Commission and various states. The FCC is to vote Friday on the Verizon deal. SBC said reviews are pending in Arizona, California and Ohio.
Even though AT&T tried a last-minute bribe of promising 5,000 new U.S. jobs to help gain support for the deal, the Justice Department filed a complaint to fight the combination of the nation's No. 2 and No. 4 wireless carriers.