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June 16, 2000

Separate Statement of
Commissioner Susan Ness

Re: Applications of GTE Corporation, Transferor, and Bell Atlantic Corporation, Transferee, for Consent to Transfer Control of Domestic and International Sections 214 and 310 Authorizations and Application to Transfer Control of a Submarine Cable Landing License (CC Docket No. 98-184)

The Commission today approves the merger of two of the largest incumbent telephone companies. I believe that on balance the transaction, as finally structured, is consistent with the public interest. I write separately to underscore the importance that I place on ensuring that the transaction complies with both the letter and spirit of section 271 of the Communications Act. That provision lies at the very heart of Congress' efforts to promote competition and deregulation throughout all telecommunications markets.

While this transaction presents a close call, I believe that the modified proposal that we approve today satisfies the section 271 test. In particular, the merged entity is not allowed to profit from in-region long distance services prior to achieving section 271 approval. This will give the company the incentive to open its local markets as expeditiously as possible. Today's decision emphasizes that Bell companies may participate in the long distance market in their states, but only after they have fulfilled their statutory market-opening responsibilities.