AT&T, SBC about to shake hands

AT&T and SBC Communications are close to shaking their mitts on a $16-billion merger, which will see former Ma Bell become part of the SBC empire. Both Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are reporting that both boards met this afternoon to begin deliberations on the deal, which might be announced within hours. There is still no word on what will happen to the old AT&T brand name. I think SBC will become AT&T in Stetsen. I am surprised by the lack of action from other Bells. Is there a special agreement for BellSouth.

I hear a lot of negativity about the deal, but most are overlooking the fact that with this deal, SBC will pretty much own the enterprise market. Add to this Cingular operations, and boy can they cross sell into the corporate market place. I think they should keep AT&T brand name. I am a feeling a little glum – I hope AT&T doesn’t become a distant fading memory in our names. Everytime I think of calling home, I think of AT&T. To me as a customer – not a journalist following technology – Ma Bell means a connection to my mom.

Robert Atkinson, a former U.S. Federal Communications Commission official who now heads the Institute for Tele-Information at Columbia University in New York thinks that splitting AT&T after the 1984 anit-trust decision into long distance and local businesses was the beginning of the end for the company, which in many way has been trying to catch a falling knife.

“The era of the huge company trying to be all things to all people all the time is over,” said Mr. Atkinson. The Bells, which continue to add assets and services, now face this challenge as they confront new competitors, including cable companies and Internet-based phone companies. “If they’re not adept at adapting, they will follow the same path as AT&T,” said Mr. Atkinson.