Re: Beginning of the End for AT&T

DENVER -- AT&T's shareholders -- at what will probably be their last

> meeting -- are expected to approve a $16 billion merger with SBC > Communications in Denver on Thursday, forming the largest > telecommunications company in the nation.

While that might be the official "end" of AT&T, it's end started a long time ago. AT&T planned to expand into new businesses after divesture. It went after cable, wireless, and computers. None of these worked out very well. That's the risks of business.

There aren't too many 100 year old businesses out there still intact. Those that survived are usually very different than the businesses they once were. US Steel, for example, was once an economic powerhouse high up in the Fortune 500, but now it is much smaller.

IBM survived two crises in its life, first the transition to electronic computers which it almost missed, and second the transition to services rather than hardware which it now is doing. (Unisys, the merger of two old once giant companies, is very small and is mostly services now.)

The deal, together with the upcoming Verizon-MCI merger, > represents an unprecedented consolidation of the telecom industry.

I agree that it sure looks like rebuilding a single telecom monopoly -- in some BUT NOT ALL ways. But I think the present trend is good for customers.

The forced isolation of local Bell companies out of some fields only raised prices and inconvenience for some consumers. When Verizon was allowed to go into Long Distance, I switched over to them and saved a lot of money and time over AT&T. I'm back to a single monthly check and statement. (They even merged my wireless line into my regular phone book which I like too).

Customers still have a choice of equipment suppliers, LD carriers, local service, and a multitude of other options if they so chose.

Too bad nobody builds telephone sets the way Western Electric used to. (I have had good service from one Panasonic set and also their answering machines, but are they still in the phone business? I don't seem to see any of their traditional consumer electronic products as I used to.)

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