The Federal Communications Commission approved a pair of huge telecom mergers Monday, clearing the way for the deals to close in coming months. The FCC's approval of the SBC ( SBC)- AT&T ( T) and the Verizon ( VZ)- MCI ( MCIP) linkups comes just days after the Justice Department gave the pacts its blessing on antitrust grounds. "After two federal reviews and strong approvals by shareholders and the international community, it is clear that this combination is undeniably in the public interest," said Tom Tauke, Verizon executive vice president of public affairs, policy and communications. "The Department of Justice and FCC approvals put us on firm footing as we seek the remaining few state approvals." "Today's decision brings us one step closer to a new era in communications, information services and entertainment," said AT&T chief David Dorman. "Combined, SBC and AT&T will deliver superior network services and a portfolio of solutions that will help both businesses and consumers." SBC has said it expects to close its merger by year-end, while Verizon has targeted early 2006.