Ok, quick refresher: in 1984 the government splits up AT&T into the Baby Bells; through a series of mergers and acquisitions, most of the original AT&T is reformed into a new company with the old brand, spearheaded by the business formerly known as SBC. SBC's new AT&T owns in whole or in part: Cingular, AT&T Wireless, AT&T -- and now its closest ally in business (and co-owner of Cingular), BellSouth. That is, after months of deliberation and delays (we won't bore you with the political details as to why -- if you want to know more, check here
), the $87 billion merger
(hey, that went up 20 billion!) was finally given the greenlight by the FCC and SEC, as you may or may not have heard. So what does that mean customers can expect from the newly reformed AT&T? Here's a taste:
- The Cingular brand eventually will die and actually become AT&T Wireless -- the very brand it paid billions to acquire.
- AT&T has agreed to maintain net neutrality for up to two years; after that, we're of what happens. This concession can be overturned if Congress passes anti-net neutrality laws, which we're all hoping, of course, that it doesn't.
- AT&T has agreed to sell "naked" DSL for $20 a month as a standard package.
- AT&T is likely also to strive for more aggressive triple (or quadruple) play packages, as it rolls out U-Verse-based IPTV. In some regions, customers can expect to get TV, DSL, phone, and cellphone service all under the AT&T brand.
- Baby Bell remnants still competing with AT&T in one vertical or another: Verizon, Qwest, Cincinnati Bell.
For more info on how AT&T was broken down and reformed, check out The Engadget Guide to AT&T Wireless/Cingular/SBC/AT&T merger mania