Bell Atlantic Corp., the regional telephone company that owns the Chesapeake & Potomac companies, said yesterday it planned to acquire Sorbus Service, a computer maintenance firm.

Bell Atlantic will pay $175 million in cash to Management Assistance Inc., a New York-based holding company for Sorbus.

Sorbus, based in Frazer, Pa., is one of the nation's biggest concerns offering independent maintenance services for computers and peripheral equipment. While a letter of intent has been signed by the parties, the transaction is subject to the approval of U.S. District Court Judge Harold Greene, who presided over the breakup of the Bell System.

Under the terms of the Bell System breakup, the local telephone companies must obtain a waiver from Judge Greene before entering other businesses.

Sorbus Service repairs, maintains and reconditions computers. The company employs 2,200 people at 187 locations nationwide, has more than 35,000 customers, and generated revenue of $118 million in its fiscal year ended Sept. 30, according to Bell Atlantic.

"The Sorbus and Bell Atlantic operations are a natural fit," said Ronald A. Wallace, Sorbus' president. Bell Atlantic will benefit from a maintenance service rounding out a range of telecommunications and computer system offerings, he said. Bell Atlantic also has an eye toward making Sorbus a leading telecommunications equipment maintenance firm.

"As the technologies involved in data processing and telecommunications continue to converge, Bell Atlantic's presence as a nationwide service provider will enable us to compete aggressively in this growing market for computer and related equipment maintenance," said William L. Mobraaten, vice chairman for Bell Atlantic.

Sorbus would become one of the Bell Atlantic Enterprises group of companies, joining companies such as Bell Atlanticom Systems, Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems, Telecommunications Specialists Inc., TriContinental Leasing Corp., A Beeper Company Associates (in which Bell Atlantic holds a 40 percent interest), and Bell Atlantic Venture Services Inc.