McDowell: Won't vote on AT&T-BellSouth merger

After a few weeks of hemming and hawing over whether it was appropriate to cast the deciding vote on the AT&T-BellSouth merger, FCC commissioner Robert McDowell has decided to remain steadfast in his contention that he should abstain due to his former position as a lobbyist for a group that represents smaller phone companies and is adamantly against the deal. Despite McDowell's abstention, the deal will more than likely go through, however, his absence could change the conditions imposed on the merger.

The FCC's two Democrats argue that the merged company must abide by net neutrality conditions--treating all Internet traffic equally, but the two Republican commissioners, FCC chairman Kevin Martin included, side with AT&T in arguing that such a condition would hinder its ability to manage its network and roll out new services. McDowell has publicly sided with his Republican colleagues on the net neutrality debate, which is one reason the GOP wants him to vote.

For more on the conditions on and ramifications of the merger:
- take a look at this WSJ article (sub. req.)