MCI Reaches Settlement With 15 States, District

MCI said it had agreed to pay 15 states and the District $315 million to settle back tax claims, making it less likely Verizon Communications will trim its $8.5 billion purchase price for the Ashburn telecommunications company.

MCI also said that it would pay $16 million in additional taxes to North Carolina and that it was still in talks with South Carolina over the issue, which stems from allegations that previous management underpaid state taxes by making large royalty payments to the parent company.

Under the settlements, MCI, formerly known as WorldCom, did not admit any wrongdoing.

The tax settlements remove a potential obstacle to Verizon's purchase of MCI, whose shareholders vote on the deal on Thursday. Under their merger agreement, Verizon has the right to cut its purchase price if certain MCI liabilities exceed $1.78 billion.


New '.travel' Domain Open for Business

Airlines, theme parks, restaurants, tourism offices and others in travel and tourism are eligible for Web sites and e-mail addresses ending in ".travel."

Tralliance, a unit of Internet communications company, won approval to run the domain earlier this year from the Internet's key oversight agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.


Suit Against Local Phone Companies Reinstated

A federal appeals court reinstated an antitrust suit accusing Verizon Communications, BellSouth, Qwest Communications International and SBC Communications of colluding to avoid competition. The class-action suit claims the local companies pushed up prices by conspiring against newer providers in violation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.


Microsoft Office to Include PDF Capability

The new version of Microsoft's Office software will let users save documents in the popular PDF format, part of an effort to broaden the product's appeal. Office 12, due by the end of 2006, will be able to convert documents created in Word, PowerPoint, Excel and other products to the PDF format. Users still must download the free Acrobat Reader to view the files. Currently, creating a PDF file from Office and other documents requires separate software.


Paramount to Offer Movies on 'Blu-Ray' Format

Viacom's Paramount Pictures studio will release movies on "Blu-Ray," a next-generation DVD format developed by Sony, when players for the discs are introduced next year.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.