The "unthinkable" just got thinkable.
When SBC (SBC) and AT&T (T) first tried to combine back in 1997, they got stopped short by the Federal Communications Commission. Reed Hundt, then the FCC chairman, blasted the union as "unthinkable," saying it would thwart competition. (Related: Deal likely to face tough scrutiny)
The deal died before it had even been announced. Now, AT&T and SBC are making another try, at a time of looser regulation and furious consolidation in the telecom industry. People with direct knowledge of the talks say the two companies are deep into merger discussions.
Under the terms of the deal, which are still being finalized, San Antonio-based SBC would buy New York-based AT&T. The famous AT&T brand name would survive, but as the property of SBC.
The transaction, should it go forward, stands to transform SBC, already the USA's second-largest regional Bell company, into a global powerhouse. It also would be a further reconstitution of the former monopoly known as Ma Bell, which was broken up by court decree in 1984.