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AT&T To Ask For Change In Rules Governing Breakup

December 5, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ American Telephone & Telegraph Co. plans to ask a federal judge to change the process for deciding whether to grant waivers of the rules that govern some operations of AT&T and the seven regional telephone companies it spun off in 1984, a spokesman said.

Officials of some of the regional companies were briefed by AT&T on the contents of the proposal and said it would transfer from the Justice Department to the Federal Communications Commission the responsibility for making recommendations to the court on whether a waiver should be approved.

AT&T Washington spokesman Herb Linnen on Thursday refused to discuss details of the proposed request, other than to say the company planned to file it on Monday.

Dennis Mollura, a spokesman for Philadephia-based Bell Atlantic, one of the seven regional telephone companies governed by the breakup decree, said his company fears the normal FCC process of requiring a public-comment period on all requests for decisions would slow the waiver process.

U.S. District Judge Harold Greene, the judge who makes the decisions about what lines of business the former Bell System telephone companies can be in, relies heavily on the Justice Department staff to study the various proposals put forward by the companies.

The companys have been granted limited waivers to enter publishing, insurance, real estate and other businesses.

The local companies are blocked from offering long-distance service or manufacturing telephone equipment and AT&T cannot offer local phone service.

″It would appear to us that AT&T is determined to slow the introduction of competition in the industry and protect its virtual monopoly in long distance and manufacturing,″ Bell Atlantic’s Mollura said.

AT&T successfully fought against legislation offered in the 1986 session of Congress that wold have transferred the entire decree enforcement process from Judge Greene’s court to the FCC. The local Bell companies supported it.

FCC Chairman Mark S. Fowler said through a spokeswoman that he was aware of the bare bones of the AT&T proposal but would not comment on it.