BellSouth announced Wednesday that the Federal Communications Commission will allow the company to offer long-distance phone service in Georgia and Louisiana. Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, incumbent phone companies must prove they have opened local networks to competitors in exchange for offering long-distance service.
BellSouth joins other former "Baby Bell" companies such as Verizon Communications and SBC Communications in offering long-distance services. Verizon wonin six states and is waiting for the FCC to rule on applications in two other states. offers long-distance service in five states. Qwest Communications International expects to apply for permission to offer long-distance service later this year.