The recent announcement by AT&T of the acquisition of Bell South has caused quite a stir in the region, conjuring up memories of a huge, unresponsive entity controlling every facet of our communication capabilities, and making us pay dearly for it. Along with the Bell South acquisition comes the swallowing of the Cingular cellular network, with over 58 million subscribers, into a vast monolithic conglomerate reminiscent of most of the last century.
But what do we really have to fear? Today’s AT&T is merely a shadow of it’s former self, and in fact is only a brand, with little in common with the AT&T of old. Why they would want to instill fear in the hearts of so many Americans is beyond me, but the plan is to phase out the Bell South and Cingular brands, rename everything to AT&T, and launch a fleet of vans with the dreaded AT&T globe logo to terrorize our local neighborhoods
The AT&T monopoly that we remember so well was forced by the Justice Department back in 1984 to split up into several smaller companies, resulting in the birth of the seven regional Baby Bells, and leaving AT&T itself as a mere long distance phone company.
What followed in the late 1990’s was a consolidation of the industry if you will, with one of the players being the local baby bell Southwestern Bell Corp, based in Texas. As this regional bell began buying out its competition, local phone companies the likes of PacBell and Ameritech succumbed to the pressure. This melding in the industry resulted in the birth of the company known as SBC.
In 2000, SBC and the regional phone company Bell South enter into a joint venture to combine their cellular networks, calling the new company Cingular Wireless. The next year, a bloated AT&T decides to trim down by spinning off its wireless division, which becomes AT&T Wireless. In 2004, Cingular (jointly owned by SBC and Bell South) acquires AT&T Wireless for $41 billion, while its former parent, AT&T, retains the right to the AT&T Wireless brand name.
Fast forward to 2005, SBC buys out AT&T for a mere $16 billion, and thus the rights to the AT&T Wireless name. After some careful consideration, (yea, right) SBC changes its name to AT&T.
Which brings us full circle. The new AT&T (SBC) buys Bell South (and thus the remaining interest in Cingular) and is now planning to launch a marketing campaign to erase the Bell South and Cingular names, and replace them with the well known brand AT&T.
So what just happened here? To recap, Moms’ kids are kicked out into the real world. One of the siblings eats its neighbors and its other siblings, and then gobbles up the aging and decrepit mom. The sibling, now middle aged, changes its name to its mothers in an attempt to cover up the loss of the mother, and to use Ma’s name to lure in more food.
Will it work? Maybe. After all, you are what you eat!