Updated: AT&T now makes nice and gets FCC merger approval

Updated: AT&T now makes nice and gets FCC merger approval

Summary: Updated: Deal approved Friday afternoon. From Washington comes late word tonight that a compromise has apparently been hammered out that will clear the way for AT&T to acquire BellSouth for $85 billion.

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TOPICS: Government US
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Updated: Deal approved Friday afternoon. From Washington comes late word tonight that a compromise has apparently been hammered out that will clear the way for AT&T to acquire BellSouth for $85 billion.

That's the AT&T headed by "one-time," fierce net neutrality opponent Edward Whitacre, Jr. You're lookin' at him. 

The compromise is said to be one in which AT&T has worked with attorneys for the FCC's two Democratic Commissioners to observe net neutrality principles, offer some moderate-rate DSL subscriber lines, and divest some wireless assets.

For its part, AT&T says:

AT&T/BellSouth also commits that it will maintain a neutral network and neutral routing in its wireline broadband Internet access service. This' commitment shall be satisfied byAT&T/BellSouth's agreement not to provide or to sell to Internet content, application, or serviceproviders, including those affiliated with AT&T/BellSouth, any service that privileges, degrades or prioritizes any packet transmitted over AT&T/BellSouth's wireline broadband Internet accessservice based on its source, ownership or destination. 

Even the Consumers Union is praising this news. Consumers Union vp of federal and international affairs Gene Kimmelman, said AT&T's new concessions are "an enormous improvement from where we were a month ago."

A green light for the merger could come as early as tomorrow via an electronic vote of FCC members.

My thinking? Maybe AT&T is ready to make nice, but here is a company with more than 100 years of fine print sophistry. They need to be watched like a hawk, and I'm not sure this FCC is quite up to the task.

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Topic: Government US

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  • AT&T, the darkest phoenix.

    Mutha Bell is about to take its biggest step towards resurrecting their monopoly, and will get control of the Internet on top. And the government? They won't give a dead rat's ash about it, as long as Mutha Bell keeps your private data open for them. What I don't see is how much "nice" $$$$$ was involved to get the Democrats to "change their minds."

    Why is the Consumers Union drinking the kool-aid like George Ou? [i]An enormous improvement,[/i] as long as you're AT&T. Screw the "consumer." And where's that judge [url=http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1035_22-6139838.html]who refuses to rubber-stamp this "deal?"[/url] He's supposed to give the OK as long as the assimilation was in the public's interest... yeah, like it really would be in the public's interest.

    Given Mutha Bell's past as a telco desperate to reclaim its past glory at the expense of the Internet's freedom, the only way I'd trust AT&T is if Mr. Whitacre was dragged under a bus.
    Mr. Roboto
  • Consumers pay to increase Google profits for 4 years.

    "Net neutrality" is, of course, a term meaning the transfer of costs from the companies that incur them to individual customers who do not use the service. It's taking the public's money for the benefit of large, profitable companies.

    Here's a list of the concessions from the linked article:

    "An offer of stand-alone, high-speed Internet service to customers in its service area for $19.95 per month for a total of 30 months. The "naked DSL (digital subscriber line)" offer would allow those who live in AT&T and BellSouth's service areas to sign up for fast Internet access without being required to buy a package of other services.

    [This is good for consumers. Compelling the cable companies to unbundle their services is the essential complement to this offer. Otherwise, it's only a competitive disadvantage to the Bell companies.
    A cable company monopoly would be as bad as a Bell company monopoly.]

    _A greater commitment to network neutrality, or nondiscrimination involving Internet traffic. AT&T said it would "maintain a neutral network and neutral routing in its wireline broadband Internet access service" for two years.

    _To freeze rates for "special access" customers, usually competitors and large businesses that pay to connect directly to a regional phone company's central office via a dedicated fiber optic line, for 48 months.

    [All the money Google and Microsoft and other large companies paid to lobby Congress has paid off. Regular customers will produce a huge windfall.]

    _To "assign and/or transfer to an unaffiliated third party" all of its 2.5 GHZ spectrum currently licensed to BellSouth within one year of the merger closing date.

    _To "repatriate" 3,000 jobs that were outsourced by BellSouth outside the U.S. by Dec. 31, 2008, with at least 200 of them to be located in New Orleans.

    [Specifics like this usually indicate an influential Representative or Senator had to be propitiated.]"


    I hope that Ted Stevens was wrong about the impact of the gift to Google, and that my monthly charges are no worse than doubled.

    Each party has its pet companies, and perhaps this expensive concession is linked to the new Democratic majority. Perhaps too that's the reason the concession of my money continues for 4 years.
    Anton Philidor
  • Down with regulation!

    That's all I have to say. I'm tired of the government willfully destroying American competitiveness.
    Erik Engbrecht