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.