HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- Montana utility regulators approved merger of the U S West and Qwest telecommunications companies Monday, leaving them to get signoffs by Minnesota and four more states so the deal can proceed.
The companies said they are optimistic the merger will be completed by midyear. They have said the merger will bring advanced voice, data and broadband Internet services to Montana customers.
The Montana Public Service Commission attached conditions to its approval, among them a requirement for at least a $50 million corporate investment in Montana during 2001 and 2002.
Other conditions include requirements that the PSC be updated regularly on steps to improve Montanans' access to advanced telecommunications services, and that any costs connected to the merger not be passed to customers.
The commission approved the merger on a vote of 4-0, with Commissioner Bob Rowe absent.
U S West Inc., a regional Baby Bell, and Qwest Communications International Inc., which sells Internet-based voice, image and data transmission, have merger approval from Colorado and Iowa, as well as Montana. States that have not acted on the merger proposal announced last summer are Arizona, Minnesota, Washington, Wyoming and Utah. The Federal Communications Commission conditionally approved the deal in March.
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