FCC Approves Merger of AT&T and BellSouth

Last Month, the Federal Communications Commission approved the merger of AT&T and BellSouth, because it found significant public interest benefits are likely to result from the merger. In particular, as a result of AT&T’s capability to deploy IP-based video services more quickly than BellSouth could on its own, the merger is expected to increase competition for advanced pay television services.

FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin and Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate issued a joint statement in which they said that the two companies are currently planning to make IPTV services available in their territories to compete directly with cable and satellite service providers. They further propose that the increased competition will benefit consumers by improving service and keeping prices down, as well as by improving the control and availability of content.

Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein, who concurred, said the merger would help the applicants accelerate broadband and video deployments. “To that end, I would have preferred a clearer and more enforceable set of commitments on the applicants’ plans to bring true high-bandwidth broadband services to all consumers,” he noted. “But I am pleased that the combined company has agreed to reach 100 percent of their customers with at least basic broadband service by the end of 2007 and to file a report on their progress in deploying advanced video services.”