Ma Bell Getting The Band Back Together

from the no-surprise-there dept

Anyone who didn’t expect AT&T to buy BellSouth hasn’t been paying attention. Back in 2004, we compared the two companies to a couple who wouldn’t admit it was a couple. Also, as soon as the SBC, AT&T merger closed, we noted that the clock was ticking on the eventual AT&T/BellSouth merger. It took a bit longer than the 24 hours some predicted, but AT&T and BellSouth have come to a merger agreement — suggesting the big publicity push that BellSouth put on at the time of the AT&T/SBC merger was really just a ploy to raise the price. However, given BellSouth’s close relationship with AT&T (the SBC part), this was a natural move. There’s some concern as to whether or not this makes it through regulatory review, but it would be surprising if it doesn’t get approved in some format (perhaps with the forced sale of certain totally meaningless parts). Consumer groups are saying they’ll oppose the deal, but it’s unlikely that will matter. The request by one group that the combined company sell off Cingular (which is already jointly owned by the two companies) seems like a pointless suggestion that really doesn’t impact the competitive issue at all. If these groups really are concerned about competitive issues, they’d focus on network neutrality issues — as the combined company (both parts of which have advocated ditching net neutrality) would be in a position of power when it came to offering broadband services to large parts of the country where little real competition exists.


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Comments on “Ma Bell Getting The Band Back Together”

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8 Comments
nonuser says:

I have a bad feeling about this

What is the purpose of this merger, except to reduce competition, raise prices and allow SBC to be an even bigger bully than it was before (threatening to charge big web sites for broadband access to the home, for example), using their new AT&T name as a shield. *We* were the ones who invented telephone service yada yada yada.

Howard Plumley (profile) says:

Scary news

It took twenty years and twenty billion dollars to break up Ma Bell. Now the two worst ‘Highwaymen’ in history want us all under their thumb. [They built parts of the ‘internet highway’ and think that gives them the right to extort money from the users. It would be like local cities putting toll booths on public roads to get money from UPS or FedEx.] Unfortunately the FCC has forgotten its responsibility to the public and will rubber stamp this fiasco.

Patrick Mullen says:

Re: Scary news

Actually, local cities (or at least states) do charge FedX/UPS to get money, thats what registration fees are for.

This acquisition really brings into focus the fact that the next big telecom battle will be between the telcos and cable. No one cares about voice anymore, its the delivery of content (IPTV) that is being fought. If you think any of the providers are going to allow video to trend to free like voice has, you are nuts.

How come no one has a problem with a mobile provider charging extra for bandwidth, yet if a telco does, its a major problem? Posts here in other threads talk about the lack of uptake of broadband in the US, or not being able to even get broadband, but then want to limit the potential of the provider of that broadband?

If I were a provider thinking of expanding my footprint, would I lay fiber at a cost of a billion dollars per million subscribers knowing that my customer will buy voice from someone else and video from others? How long would it take me to recover the cost of laying that fiber? Would I bother?

Andrew Schmitt (user link) says:

Only the begining

Comcast/Sprint is next, after VZ buys Vodafone’s 40%. Then, lacking scale and a wireless vector, Time Warner and Cablevision will get sucked into Comcast. T-Mobile and Qwest end up somewhere.
It will leave us with three communication companies, fully horizontally integrated. Short term, people will have two choices though I expect T and VZ will attack each others turf using VoIP and WIreless.
The death star looks like it’s nearly operational…. and Mike I do agree that people should not be surprised. I wrote the same before I saw this post.

I think MVNO’s may have a role to play as very low cost providers in this new environment… the Verizon/AT&T/Comcast brands will be about horizontal integration, other brands will be all about wireless only. Maybe that is where T-mobile fits.

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