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Bell Merger Overcomes Hurdle

Removing a major hurdle to the second-biggest merger in U.S. history, Bell Atlantic and Nynex promised Saturday to take steps to make it easier for rivals to compete in local phone markets.

The two regional Bell companies pledged in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission to abide by several competitive safeguards.

The proposed merger had been hung up at the FCC for months with regulators worried that it would stifle competition. But the companies’ assurances fix that, an FCC official said Saturday.

“I think we can and should approve this merger,” FCC Chairman Reed Hundt said in a phone interview.

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