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Judge wants more info on AT&T, Verizon mergers

Request comes as judge ponders whether to sign off on proposed settlements between the government and the companies.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Friday asked for full, unredacted versions of Federal Communications Commission orders that approved the megamergers of SBC Communications with AT&T and Verizon Communications with MCI last fall, according to a court filing. The request came as Sullivan ponders whether to sign off on proposed settlements between the government and the respective companies that would officially allow the mergers to proceed with minor conditions in place.

The judge's order followed a daylong hearing on Wednesday in which he criticized the telephone companies and the Bush administration for failing to provide enough factual evidence and expert testimony to show the twin mergers are in the "public interest." The parties said at the time that it's well within Sullivan's authority to take the FCC's orders into account, but they have until Monday at 9 a.m. PDT to object to the less-public versions of those documents being reviewed by the court.