AT&T Makes More Concessions in Bid to Close BellSouth Merger

AT&T Inc. late Thursday made additional concessions in its bid to acquire BellSouth Corp.; critics have complained that the Bell companys Oct. 13 compromises did not go far enough.

AT&T filed a letter with the FCC on Dec. 28, stating it was trying to break the impasse created by the two Democratic FCC commissioners who have staunchly opposed the merger, alongside competitive carrier associations and companies, and some consumer groups. If or more likely, when the merger is approved, AT&T will fully own Cingular Wireless LLC, expand its local service to 22 states, and continue competing against cable companies for phone and video customers.

Industry watchers say merger approval could come as soon as Friday, before the new year.

The company made a series of concessions, including bows to net neutrality, special access, interconnection agreements and unbundled network elements (UNEs). Most notably, AT&T said that for 30 months following the mergers close, it would comply with the FCCs four net neutrality principles this after Chairman Ed Whitacre famously declared that companies such as Google Inc. should not be allowed to ride on his pipes for free. The company agreed that for a limited period it will not charge applications providers premium fees to use its networks.

Then, for 48 months following the mergers close, AT&T stated, among other items, that it will not increase existing customers rates for its DS1 and DS3 local private line services.

And among the bullet points associated with interconnection agreements, AT&T said it would allow competitor customers to negotiate new deals from the starting point of their pre-existing contracts. The catch is, those customers have to request that they be able to do so.

Finally, of note to competitive carriers, the company said it will continue to offer, without seeking state rate increases, UNEs at the prices in effect when the merger is approved.

AT&T Inc.
BellSouth Corp.

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