US regulators OK AT&T, BellSouth buyout

US telecommunications giant AT&T extended its dominance as the largest provider of phone, wireless and broadband Internet services in the US by acquiring BellSouth in the largest telecommunications takeover in US history, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved the $86 billion buyout, a day after the company offered new concessions for consumers and competitors.

Lawyers for AT&T and the two Democratic commissioners who had opposed the merger hammered out a compromise, the details of which were released Thursday night, the report said.

AT&T promised to observe 'network neutrality,' not to favor Internet content providers who pay the company more money, and to offer $19.95 per month stand-alone digital subscriber line service.
AT&T will also divest some wireless spectrum.

The combination of AT&T and BellSouth will have operations in 22 states.

AT&T estimates that about 10,000 jobs will be phased out over three years.

The buyout will also give AT&T complete control over Cingular Wireless, the nation's largest wireless telecommunications provider, which it had jointly owned with BellSouth. The Associated Press report further said AT&T is also trying to roll out television service to compete with cable operators.

Consumer advocates had opposed the merger from the start, but they put the best face on the compromise, pointing to AT&T's promise of network neutrality, it added.

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