BT and AT&T's global joint-venture, Concert, will open for business in the next four weeks, after getting regulatory approval from the US Federal Communications Commission.
The approval removes the last regulatory hurdle to the launch of the $10 billion joint venture, which pools BT's existing international business - originally created to partner US telco MCI - with AT&T's international operations.
In a statement issued in the US on Friday, the FCC rejected arguments from rival telcos Cable & Wireless and GTE, who had claimed the tie-up would create a player with too great a market power. The commission welcomed the creation of the venture, describing it as "pro-competitive."
A series of limited conditions were added, principally because BT is deemed to have a dominant position in the UK. A BT spokesman brushed off the conditions as "nothing we didn't expect."
No exact launch date for the venture has been set, but both parties said today that Concert would launch "in about a month." The venture was announced by the two telcos in July 1998. It is 50 per cent owned by each party. It offers global business telecom services, including ATM, Frame Relay and Internet Protocol (IP) complete with new IP managed services.
Concert was launched in June 1993 as a joint venture between BT and US long distance telco MCI, but the relationship collapsed when MCI was acquired by Worldcom at a time when BT had made an offer to buy MCI. BT acquired MCI's 20 per cent stake in the venture as a consolation prize.
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