PacBell Seeks Approval for Long-Distance

Pacific Bell on Wednesday formally applied for state permission to sell long-distance phone service in California, culminating three years of hearings, filings and skirmishes with competitors.

To win approval, PacBell must prove to the California Public Utilities Commission and the Federal Communications Commission that it has sufficiently opened up its local phone network to rival companies.

AT&T; Corp., WorldCom Inc. and other competitors, which are poised to challenge PacBell's application, argue that PacBell has not sufficiently opened its local phone market to competitors. Rivals will have a chance to comment on PacBell's filing before state commissioners rule later this year.

PacBell, the state's largest phone company, is pressing to win all government approvals by the end of the year.

PacBell's parent company, San Antonio-based SBC Communications Inc., has won long-distance approvals in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, but federal regulators are investigating inaccuracies in the applications in those states.

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