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FCC Approves Verizon, Rural Cellular Merger
Dow Jones

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The Federal Communications Commission on Friday approved a merger between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Rural Cellular Corp. (RCCC), which does business as Unicel.

The FCC's vote assures the merger will go through. Antitrust officials at the Justice Department already have indicated their approval of the deal if Verizon Wireless gets rid of some of its airwaves in six markets.

Verizon Wireless is jointly owned by Verizon and Vodafone Group PLC (VOD).

DOJ currently is collecting comment on its proposed settlement, which would require Verizon to divest spectrum in Vermont, New York and Washington.

In July 2007, Verizon announced its plans acquire Rural Cellular for about $ 2.67 billion.

The merger met with some skeptics, particularly in Vermont, where the two companies' airwaves overlapped. Vermont officials worried that Verizon's plan to convert Rural's service to a different type of network would make some state residents' phones unworkable.

With the divestments in Vermont, however, the problem is moot.

The Vermont attorney general signed off on the deal in June when Verizon and Rural Cellular agreed to divest overlapping spectrum.

-By Fawn Johnson, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9263; fawn.johnson@ dowjones.com

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  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  08-01-08 0850ET
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