Regulation: A Freer Hand for At&T

A Freer Hand for At&T

In 1980, four years before the court-ordered breakup of American Telephone | and Telegraph, the Federal Government required the company to separate its telephone-service division from the unit that made and sold equipment. That step was taken to prevent Ma Bell from charging telephone customers for the cost of developing new communications systems.

Such concerns have since diminished. AT&T no longer provides local telephone service, and competitors have eroded the company's long-distance dominance. Recognizing those facts, the Federal Communications Commission last week reversed its 1980 decision and allowed AT&T to merge its long-distance and phone-equipment businesses. The ruling means that AT&T...

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