It’s being billed as a merger but it’s really the latest — and possibly last major — buying spree for AT&T Chairman Ed Whitacre, who built the former SBC in a massive telecom the old-fashioned way: consolidation. Pending shareholder and federal approval, AT&T will pay about $37 a share for SBC. Included in the deal, and quite possibly the primary driver behind it — Cingular Wireless, currently a joint venture. Cingular and all of the Bell South properties will be renamed, forming a single AT&T.The new AT&T will be combined into “a single fully integrated wireless and wireline Internet Protocol network offering a full range of advanced solutions,” according to the press release.
So what does this mean for content providers? AT&T already was the biggest kid on the block; now it will have even more power. Think Comcast in the cable arena. It shouldn’t change life much for the wireless side. But it should significantly increase AT&T’s role in IPTV, with the addition of more potential IPTV households. AT&T will use that to argue for the merger. An opening salvo from the press release: “Consumers seeking a real alternative to cable monopolies should see faster and more economical deployment of next-generation IP television networks and similar services as a result of AT&T’s groundbreaking entry into IPTV and the unparalleled research and development work at AT&T Labs, coupled with BellSouth’s extensive deployment of fiber networks for DSL and other broadband services.”