Briefs: BT Considers Spinoffs

FRAMINGHAM (04/20/2000) - Like many U.S. carriers, British Telecommunications PLC is considering separate tracking stocks or spinoffs for some of its businesses. For example, BT announced it will establish a separate stock listing for a U.S. telephone-directory publisher it bought last year and will consider such moves for its Internet access and wireless divisions. BT, whose overall stock price took a dive in February after it reported earnings pressure due to domestic competition, is AT&T Corp.'s partner in building a global voice and data network.

State regulators will begin to take the lead in resolving cases of "slamming" - the practice of changing a business's or consumer's long-distance carrier without the customer's explicit authorization - under new rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

The move is an attempt to break a logjam over slamming regulation after a court stayed some federal slamming rules and the telecom industry failed to agree on an expected third-party administrator to adjudicate slamming cases. A trade group for state regulators has identified 35 states in which the state government has agreed to take on slamming enforcement; the FCC will handle cases from the other states.

Two early providers of voice over digital subscriber line (DSL) are going to become one, as Mpower Communications has agreed to buy Primary Network Holdings. Mpower picks up 60 salespeople as well as expertise in DSL, other forms of dedicated access and Web hosting. Both offer multiple voice channels on a single DSL line to connect customers to regular local and long-distance phone services.

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