AT&T settlement delay is unlikely to alter terms

Judge Harold H. Greene, by refusing to dismiss the government's antitrust suit against American Telephone & Telegraph, is expressing displeasure over the manner in which the AT&T settlement was handled, but not with the settlement itself.

Few observers expect the settlement, which would allow Ma Bell to enter unregulated businesses while divesting it of its 22 local operating companies, to be substantially altered by Judge Greene's action.

''We don't see this scuttling it,'' says Paula Horii, a spokeswoman for AT&T.

Judge Greene's Federal District Court in Washington has been the venue for the government's massive legal attempt to break up AT&T. The settlement, however , was filed in the Federal District Court of Newark, N.J. -- which oversees the 1956 consent decree barring Ma Bell from unregulated businesses.

Instead of transferring jurisdiction over the settlement to Washington, as expected, Newark District Judge Vincent P. Biunno simply approved the agreement.

''He's saying, 'This is my ball, and I want it in my court,' '' says a Washington lawyer with past involvement in the case.

Judge Greene has indicated he wants the settlement to run the gantlet of a 60 -day period for public comment, as required by the 1974 Tunney Act.

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