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EU Commission clears AT&T-British Telecom alliance

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BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European Union regulators have granted antitrust clearance for the $11 billion alliance between AT&T and British Telecommunications PLC.

The decision announced Tuesday by the EU Commission follows an agreement by AT&T to sell ACC Corp., a British provider of long distance telephone service.The proposed venture is still awaiting the nod if the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission.

The EU Commission said it was not worried about the venture becoming a monopoly, "This is a dynamic market and there are a number of competitors as well as a substantial number of potential competitors."

The Commission estimated the joint venture's combined share of the international carrier services market at 18 percent.

Combined, AT&T and BT carry about half the calling traffic between the United States and Britain, but own less than 20 percent of the network capacity.

The Commission said that increased capacity on the route is pushing prices down and this is making the route easier for new competitors to enter.

As for the British market, the Commission said it found "no evidence of the creation or strengthening of a dominant position" due to the creation of the joint venture.