Consumer groups urge regulators to block BellSouth deal

Some of the largest consumer groups in the US will oppose AT&T's purchase of BellSouth, arguing that the deal will reduce competition and drive up prices in the telecom industry, an Associated Press report said.


The report quoted US groups Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America as saying that they would urge the US Justice Department to block AT&T's $67-billion offer.


The consumer groups also asked their members to contact the Federal Communications Commission, which must approve the acquisition, and to petition their congressmen to try to prevent the deal from going through, the report said.


The consumer groups warned that increasing consolidation in the telephone industry would boost the prices of local, long-distance and cellular phone services, the report further said.


In the report, the consumer groups said that more-limited choices for phone service, along with a similar merger trend in the cable industry, threatened to reduce the variety of broadband Internet services available to consumers.