Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 4:35am
AT&T AND BELLSOUTH: WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
[SOURCE: C-Net|News.com, AUTHOR: Marguerite Reardon]
Watchdog groups believe the outcome of a quiet political battle over which restrictions to impose on the AT&T and BellSouth merger will affect consumers for years to come. When the AT&T monopoly was broken up in 1984 by antitrust regulators, it was divided into seven Bell operating companies. After this merger, there will be three companies. The new AT&T will become the nation's dominant phone company, controlling more than half the telephone and Internet access lines in the U.S. In many ways, the new AT&T will be even stronger than the old Ma Bell because today's company competes in many more markets, including business and consumer data services and paid television. And therein lies the problem. A supersize AT&T, some worry, could have the ability to jack up wholesale line-leasing rates it charges to smaller carriers--a cost that would ultimately be passed on to consumers. "When you create an entity that is this large, it makes future competition impossible," said Mark Cooper, research director for the Consumer Federation of America.
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