ATLANTA … The U.S. Department of Justice has recommended that the Federal Communications Commission approve BellSouth’s application to offer long-distance service to customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama.

The DOJ asked the FCC to satisfy itself that the company’s coordination of changes in its computer interfaces with competitors’ systems is sufficient, but noted that BellSouth has made “substantial progress in addressing issues,” including this one, “previously identified by the Department.”

By law, the commission is to give “substantial weight” to the Justice Department evaluation, the company said in a statement.

BellSouth (NYSE: BLS) filed the application, covering about one-third of the company’s customers, on June 20. The FCC must render a decision by Sept. 18.

“The DOJ announcement confirmed the strength of our application,” Herschel Abbott, BellSouth vice president of governmental affairs, said in the statement. “BellSouth is committed to maintaining what it has worked so hard to achieve: a local network open to competition. We will emphasize that commitment and the steps we have taken to ensure an open network when we file our reply comments at the FCC on August 5.”