WebRTC Solutions Industry News

[December 29, 2006]

Talks move AT&T closer to deal

(Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Dec. 29--AT&T appears to be edging closer to completing a $86 billion buyout of BellSouth, with Federal Communications Commission approval possible as soon as today.

The timing of the vote still could change, given that the FCC was once expected to sign off on the deal in October. But on Thursday night, AT&T and BellSouth sent a letter to the FCC offering to agree to a much broader list of conditions than previously disclosed.

The letter is a key indication that the FCC, in its talks with AT&T, has made progress on a compromise. Until now, the FCC's two Republicans and two Democrats have been deadlocked, leaving the deal's approval up in the air.

In October, AT&T said it would agree to concessions on a number of issues, such as making high-speed Internet service available to all. That, however, didn't prove enough to satisfy the FCC's Democrats.

On Thursday, AT&T and BellSouth detailed more concessions, including:

--Returning 3,000 jobs to the United States that BellSouth had outsourced overseas.

--Freezing prices on some services that rivals purchase from AT&T to resell.

--Selling, or divesting, fiber lines in 31 buildings in the Southeast so others can use them to compete with AT&T.

--Selling some wireless spectrum and, in other cases, agreeing to use spectrum or face losing it.

--Offering high-speed Internet service to customers at a cost of $19.95 per month without requiring them to buy phone service.

Even more significant was an agreement to limits on what it is known in industry shorthand as "net neutrality." In simple terms, the debate revolves around who should pay for network upgrades as Internet traffic grows.

AT&T wants the freedom to charge more to the heaviest corporate users, while some groups and companies oppose the prospect of such charges. AT&T in its letter said it won't levy charges or offer faster service to those willing to pay for it for two years. That could change, however, through action in Congress.

Thursday's news was greeted with praise by some consumer advocates who argued in favor of net neutrality.

"Making net neutrality a condition of the largest merger in telecommunications history would set an important precedent," said Ben Scott, policy director for Free Press, which has opposed the merger.

In AT&T's letter to the FCC, the company's senior vice president for federal regulatory issues, Robert Quinn Jr., said the additional concessions are meant to "break the impasse."

Assuming the changes are enough to settle the many thorny issues that surround the deal, AT&T's acquisition could go ahead as early as today. The acquisition is expected to have a sweeping impact on Atlanta and on Georgia.

BellSouth and Cingular Wireless, which AT&T also will take over in the deal, are both headquartered in Atlanta and employ thousands of people in the state.

Cingular's main office will stay in the city after the AT&T buyout, but BellSouth's operations will remain only as a regional headquarters.

Thousands of white-collar jobs could be lost in Georgia, whether through attrition or involuntary cuts. Very few changes are expected among blue-collar employees, given that AT&T's existing network has little overlap with that of BellSouth.

Those issues remain in the offing, however, as the companies wait to close the deal.

According to a person familiar with the situation, officials have worked to strike a compromise since it became clear Dec. 18 that a fifth commissioner would not break a tie. That commissioner decided not to vote, citing a conflict of interest from his previous work for a trade group that opposes the deal. Discussions among the remaining commissioners and their staffers resumed, despite the holidays.

San Antonio-based AT&T has ample incentive to push to complete the purchase before 2007, in part because the Democratic takeover of Congress could lead to more delays.

While the FCC does not have a formal meeting scheduled until Jan. 17, commissioners can approve the AT&T-BellSouth deal without such a gathering. The merger also will need a final stamp of approval by the Georgia secretary of state's office.

To see more of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.ajc.com.

Copyright (c) 2006, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.
For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

[ Back To WebRTC Solutions's Homepage ]


Featured Podcasts

Oracle in Enterprise Communications

Most in the industry have heard of the acquisition of Acme Packet by Oracle. What you may not know is that Oracle has a number of telecommunications products including a UC suite, WebRTC Session Controller, and Operations monitoring tools. Oracle is pursuing both the enterprise and service provider.

Featured Whitepapers

WebRTC Security Concerns

This whitepaper covers two of the most relevant topics in communications industry today: WebRTC and security. We will introduce the problem of security in WebRTC including those traditional VoIP attacks that are going to be present in WebRTC services. Later we will mention ad-hoc WebRTC attacks and protection mechanisms, to close with an overview of identity management solutions.

Migrating Real Time Communications Services to the Web

In the Internet age, businesses that own fixed and mobile communication networks, including traditional Communications Service Providers (CSPs) of all kinds, are being challenged with some tough questions: How do we stay relevant to our customers?

Delivering Enterprise-Class Communications with WebRTC

WebRTC is an emerging industry standard for enabling Web browsers with real-time communications capabilities. It enables enterprises to enhance Web sites, empower BYOD users, and improve video collaboration and on-line meetings, to name but a few examples.

WebRTC Report Extract Reprint

This document examines the growing important of WebRTC, both generally and for telecom service providers. It considers the expanding range of use-cases, the multiple layers of interoperability likely to be desired by telcos, and some implications in terms of network integration and mobility.


Robust Enterprise Grade WebRTC Systems and Services

The emerging WebRTC standard has become one of the industry's hottest topics – and with good reason. Being able to "communications enable the web" has Communications Service Providers as well as Enterprises busily making plans for deployment. But, as these plans unfold, reality is starting to intrude on those plans. Our expectations of telephony services are much higher than web browsing. We expect the phone to connect instantly, operate with minimal disruption, and work seamless across any network, anywhere, at any time. There is also an understanding that phone service is inherently secure. With WebRTC, the expectation is for these applications to behave in the same manner.

This session looks at the user experience and expectations of a WebRTC Enterprise service. It will also cover how a WebRTC enterprise handles security, reliability, and interoperability within browsers and networks.


The Oracle Communications WebRTC Session Controller enables communications service providers (CSPs) and enterprises to offer WebRTC services – from virtually any device, across virtually any network – with carrier-grade reliability and security.

Sales Presentation: Oracle Communications WebRTC Session Controller

- WebRTC Market and Opportunities
- WebRTC Challenges
- Oracle Communication WebRTC Session   Controller
- Summary


Communication Service Provider (CSP) voice service revenues continue to face pressure due to shifts in communication preferences and competition from non-traditional service providers. Voice communications are now often embedded into applications outside the domain of traditional telephony voice usage. CSPs have been challenged to effectively leverage and monetize new web-oriented communications technologies.