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FIRMS INVEST IN LOCAL PHONE SERVICE

Sprint Corp. and its cable-television partners will invest $4.4 billion in the biggest challenge yet to the domination of local phone markets by the Baby Bells and GTE Corp.

In October Sprint, Tele-Communications Inc., Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc. said they would combine forces to offer wireless, local and long-distance phone services with cable-TV to customers on one bill. The partners said they will use the money to jointly build wireless networks that would serve markets with a total population of 182 million.

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