AT&T Inc.
Type Public
Traded as NYSET
Dow Jones Component
S&P 500 Component
Industry Telecommunications
Founded October 5, 1983 (1983-10-05)[1]
Headquarters Whitacre Tower, Downtown,
Dallas, Texas
, United States
Key people Randall Stephenson
(Chairman, President & CEO)[2]
Services Fixed line and mobile telephony, broadband and fixed-line internet services, digital television
Revenue increase US$ 124.280 billion (2010)[3]
Operating income decrease US$ 019.573 billion (2010)[3]
Net income increase US$ 019.864 billion (2010)[3]
Total assets increase US$ 268.488 billion (2010)[3]
Total equity increase US$ 111.950 billion (2010)[3]
Employees 294,600 (2010)[3]
Parent AT&T Corp. (1983)
Subsidiaries AT&T Corp.
AT&T Mobility
AT&T Teleholdings
Southwestern Bell
Whitacre Tower: AT&T's corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas

AT&T Inc. (NYSET) is an American multinational telecommunications corporation headquartered in Whitacre Tower, Dallas, Texas, United States. It is the largest provider of mobile telephony and fixed telephony in the United States, and is also a provider of broadband and subscription television services. As of 2010, AT&T is the 7th largest company in the United States by total revenue, as well as the 4th largest non-oil company in the US (behind Walmart, General Electric and Bank of America). It is the 3rd largest company in Texas by total revenue (behind ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips) and the largest non-oil company in Texas. It is also the largest company headquartered in Dallas.[4] In 2011, Forbes listed AT&T as the 14th largest company in the world by market value[5] and the 9th largest non-oil company in the world by market value.[6] It is the 21st largest mobile telecom operator in the world with over 100.7 million mobile customers. [7]

Southwestern Bell Corporation was one of seven Regional Bell Operating Companies that were incorporated in 1983 by AT&T Corp following the break-up of the original AT&T as a result of the United States v. AT&T antitrust suit. The company changed its name in 1995 to SBC Communications Inc. and again in 2005 to AT&T Inc. after it purchased its former parent company, AT&T Corporation. The newly merged company took on the iconic AT&T logo and stock-trading symbol (NYSET, for "telephone").

The current AT&T reconstitutes much of the former Bell System and includes ten of the original 22 Bell Operating Companies along with one it partially owned (Southern New England Telephone), and the original long distance division.[8] The company is headquartered in downtown Dallas, Texas.[9]



1984–1995: Southwestern Bell Corporation

American Telephone and Telegraph Company officially transferred full ownership of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company to Southwestern Bell Corporation on January 1, 1984. It had three other subsidiaries: Southwestern Bell Publications, Inc., a directory publisher; Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems, Inc., in the business of mobile telephone service; and Southwestern Bell Telecommunications, Inc., focusing on marketing phone equipment to business customers. The holding companies' new president was Zane Edison Barnes.

Southwestern Bell Corporation logo, 1992-1995

In 1987, SBC bought Metromedia Inc.'s cellular and paging business. This in turn boosted the company to third largest cellular-communications company in the United States; behind McCaw Cellular and Pacific Telesis. In January 1990 Edward Whitacre took over as president of Southwestern Bell. The Headquarters was moved from St. Louis to San Antonio, Texas in February 1993. It acquired 2 cable companies in Maryland and Virginia from Hauser Communications for 650 million dollars, becoming the first regional Bell telephone company to acquire a cable company outside of its service area. In 1994 they called off a $1.6 billion acquisition attempt for 40 percent of Cox Cable due to FCC rules on cable companies. SBC would later start selling its current cable company interests.

1995–2000: Changes in the company

SBC Communications logo, 2001-2005

In 1995 Southwestern Bell Corp. became SBC Communications. They then combined Southwestern Bell Telecom division (which made telephone equipment) into the company, due to new FCC rules.

In 1996 SBC announced it would acquire Pacific Telesis Group, a Regional Bell Operating Company (RBOC) in California and Nevada. 1997 brought rumors of a proposed merger between AT&T Corporation (the USA's largest long distance provider) and SBC (the USA's largest local provider). The FCC disapproved of the merger, and it came to end. Later in 1997 SBC sold its last two cable companies, exiting the cable telecom field.

January 1998, SBC announced it would take over Southern New England Telecommunications Corp. (SNET) for $4.4 billion in stock (the FCC would approve in October 1998). SBC also won a court judgment that would make it easier for RBOCs to enter the long distance phone service, but it was being challenged by AT&T and the FCC. May 1998 Ameritech and SBC announced a $62 billion dollar merger, in which SBC would take over Ameritech. After making several organizational changes (such as the sale of Ameritech Wireless to GTE) to satisfy state and federal regulators, the two merged on October 8, 1999. The FCC later fined SBC Communications $6 million for failure to comply with agreements made in order to secure approval of the merger. SBC became the largest RBOC until the Bell Atlantic and GTE merger. 1998 revenues were $46 billion, placing SBC among the top 15 companies in the Fortune 500.

January 1999 SBC announced it would purchase Comcast Cellular, for $1.7 billion, plus $1.3 billion of debt. During 1999 SBC continued to prepare to be allowed to provide long distance phone service. February SBC acquired up to ten percent of Williams Companies' telecommunications division for about $500 million, who was building a fiber optic network across the country and would carry SBC's future service. On November 1, 1999, SBC became a part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

2000–2005: One national brand, AT&T Corp. acquisition

The final AT&T logo prior to its merger with SBC in late 2005.

In 2002, SBC ended marketing its operating companies under different names, and simply opted to give its companies different doing business as names based on the state (a practice already in use by Ameritech since 1993), and it gave the holding companies it had purchased d/b/a names based on their general region.

SBC-AT&T legacy transition logo, used 2005–2006

On January 31, 2005, SBC announced that it would purchase AT&T Corporation for more than US$16 billion. The announcement came almost eight years after SBC and AT&T (also known as American Telephone & Telegraph Corp.) called off their first merger talks and nearly a year after initial merger talks between AT&T Corp. and BellSouth fell apart. AT&T stockholders meeting in Denver, approved the merger on June 30, 2005. The U.S. Department of Justice cleared the merger on October 27, 2005, and the Federal Communications Commission approved it on October 31, 2005.

The merger was finalized on November 18, 2005.[10] Upon the completion of the merger, SBC Communications adopted the AT&T branding, and changed its corporate name to AT&T Inc. to differentiate the company from the former AT&T Corporation. On December 1, 2005, the merged company's New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol was changed from "SBC" to the traditional "T" used by AT&T.

The new AT&T updated the former AT&T's graphic logo (a new "marble" took over the "Death Star"); however the existing AT&T sound trademark (voiced by Pat Fleet) continues to be used.

BellSouth acquisition

The BellSouth logo.

On Friday December 29, 2006, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the new AT&T's acquisition of a regional Bell Operating Company, BellSouth, valued at approximately $86 billion (or 1.325 shares of AT&T for each share of BellSouth at the close of trading December 29, 2006).[11] The new combined company retained the name AT&T.[12] The deal consolidated ownership of both Cingular Wireless and, once joint ventures between BellSouth and AT&T. All services, including wireless, became offered under the AT&T name.[13]

2007–2008 restructuring

Transition to new media

The AT&T Switching Center in downtown Los Angeles.

In June 2007, AT&T's new chairman and CEO, Randall Stephenson, discussed how wireless services are the core of "The New AT&T".[14] With declining sales of traditional home phone lines, AT&T plans to roll out various new media such as Video Share, U-verse, and to extend its reach in high speed Internet into rural areas across the country. AT&T announced on June 29, 2007, however, that it was acquiring Dobson Communications. It was then reported on October 2, 2007 that AT&T would purchase Interwise[clarification needed] for $121 million, which it completed on November 2, 2007. On October 9, 2007, AT&T purchased 12 MHz of spectrum in the prime 700 MHz spectrum band from privately held Aloha Partners for nearly $2.5 billion; the deal was approved by the FCC on February 4, 2008. On December 4, 2007 AT&T announced plans to acquire Edge Wireless, a regional GSM carrier in the Pacific Northwest.[15] The Edge Wireless acquisition was completed in April 2008.[16]

Corporate headquarters move

On June 27, 2008, AT&T announced that it would move its corporate headquarters from 175 East Houston Street in San Antonio to One AT&T Plaza in Downtown Dallas.[9][17] The company said that it moved to gain better access to its customers and operations throughout the world, and to the key technology partners, suppliers, innovation and human resources needed as it continues to grow, domestically and internationally[18]

AT&T Inc. previously relocated its corporate headquarters to San Antonio from St. Louis in 1992, when it was then named Southwestern Bell Corporation. The company's Telecom Operations group, which serves residential and regional business customers in 22 U.S. states, remains in San Antonio.[citation needed]

Atlanta continues to be the headquarters for AT&T Mobility, with significant offices in Redmond, Washington, the former home of AT&T Wireless. Bedminster, New Jersey is the headquarters for the company's Global Business Services group and AT&T Labs. St. Louis continues as home to the company's Directory operations, AT&T Advertising Solutions.[19]

Job cuts

On December 4, 2008, AT&T announced they would be cutting 12,000 jobs due to "economic pressures, a changing business mix and a more streamlined organizational structure".[20]

Post-consolidation wireless acquisitions

Cellular One acquisition

On June 29, 2007 AT&T announced that they had reached an agreement to purchase Dobson Cellular, which provided services in the US under the name Cellular One in primarily rural areas. The closing price was $2.8B USD, or $13 per share. AT&T also agreed to assume the outstanding debt of $2.3B USD. The sale completed on November 15, 2007, with market transition beginning December 9, 2007.[21]

Centennial acquisition

On November 11, 2008, AT&T announced a $944 million buyout of Centennial Communications Corp. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval, the approval of Centennial’s stockholders and other customary closing conditions. Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, Centennial’s largest stockholder, has agreed to vote in support of this transaction. In an attempt to quell regulators, on May 9, 2009 AT&T entered an agreement with Verizon Wireless to sell off certain existing Centennial service areas in the states of Louisiana and Mississippi for $240 million pending the successful merger of AT&T and Centennial.[22]

Wayport acquisition

On December 12, 2008, AT&T acquired Wayport, Inc., a major provider of Internet hotspots in the United States. With the acquisition, AT&T's public Wi-Fi deployment climbed to 20,000 hotspots in the United States, the most of any U.S. provider.[23]

Qualcomm spectrum

On December 20, 2010, AT&T and Qualcomm announced that AT&T would buy $1.93 billion worth of spectrum from Qualcomm. Formerly used for FLO TV, this spectrum will be used to expand AT&T's 4G wireless services. AT&T already had spectrum for the purpose close to what it is buying.[24]

T-Mobile USA acquisition

On March 20, 2011, AT&T announced its intention to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion from Deutsche Telekom. The deal comes with 33.7 million subscribers, making AT&T the largest mobile phone company in the United States.[25][26] If the deal goes through AT&T would have a 43% market share of mobile phones in the U.S. making AT&T significantly larger than any of its competitors. Regulators question the effects such a deal will have on both competitors and consumers.[25] AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson however stated that the merger would increase network quality and would lead to large savings for the company. AT&T stated it may have to sell some asset to gain approval from regulators, but state they have done their "homework" on regulations.[27]

Reaction to the announced merger has generated both support as well as opposition among various groups and communities.

The merger has garnered support from a wide number of civil rights, environmental, and business organizations. These include the NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the Sierra Club.[28] Labor organizations such as the AFL-CIO, Teamsters, and the Communications Workers of America also voiced support for the merger. These organizations point to AT&T's commitment to labor, social, and environmental standards. Many of these organizations have also cited how the merger is likely to accelerate 4G wireless deployment, thus helping underserved communities such as rural areas and disadvantaged urban communities.[28] According to the NAACP, the merger will "advance increased access to affordable and sustainable wireless broadband services and in turn stimulate job creation and civic engagement throughout our country."[28]

As of August 2 the governors of 26 states have written letters supporting the merger.[29] On July 27 the attorneys general of Utah, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming sent a joint letter of support to the FCC.[29] As of August 2011 state regulatory agencies in Arizona and Louisiana have approved the acquisition.

A diverse group of industry and public-interest organizations are opposed to AT&T's merger with T-Mobile. Consumer groups including Public Knowledge, Consumers Union, Free Press and the Media Access Project are publicly opposed to AT&T merger. These groups have influence with Democrats at the Federal Communications Commission and in Congress. These organizations fear that the merger will raise prices and stifle innovation by consolidating so much of the wireless industry in one company. Free Press and Public Knowledge have started letter-writing campaigns against the deal.[30]

Internet companies are generally skeptical of the merger because it leaves them with fewer counter-parties to negotiate with for getting their content and applications to customers. The AT&T merger might leave them dependent on just two, AT&T and Verizon. The Computer & Communication Industry Association (CCIA), which counts Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and eBay among its members, is opposed to the merger. "A deal like this, if not blocked on antitrust grounds, is of deep concern to all the innovative businesses that build everything from apps to handsets. It would be hypocritical for our nation to talk about unleashing innovation on one hand and then stand by as threats to innovation like this are proposed," said Ed Black, head of CCIA.[30]

On April 21, 2011, AT&T defended its proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA before a U.S. Senate committee, saying the combined company will deliver high-speed wireless services to 97 percent of Americans and provide consumer benefits such as fewer dropped calls.[31]

If AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile USA is rejected by federal regulators, AT&T would need to pay $6 billion, including $3 billion in cash, to T-Mobile USA's parent company Deutsche Telekom.[32]

On August 31, 2011, the Department of Justice officially filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to block the acquisition. [33][34]

Bell Operating Companies

AT&T payphone signage.

Of the twenty-two Bell Operating Companies which AT&T Corp. owned prior to the 1984 agreement to divest, eleven (BellSouth Telecommunications combines two former BOCs) have become a part of the new AT&T Inc. with the completion of their acquisition of BellSouth Corporation on December 29, 2006:[35]

Former operating companies

The following companies have gone to defunct status under SBC/AT&T ownership:

Corporate structure

AT&T office in San Antonio, Texas with new logo and orange highlight from the former Cingular

AT&T Inc. has retained the holding companies it has acquired over the years resulting in the following corporate structure:

Corporate governance

Stephenson at the 2008 World Economic Forum

AT&T's current board of directors:[36]

Criticism and controversies

Contributions to political campaigns

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, AT&T is the US' second largest donor to political campaigns, having contributed more than US$ 36 million since 1990, 56% and 44% of which went to Republican and Democratic recipients, respectively. A key political issue for AT&T is the question of which businesses win the right to profit by providing broadband internet access in the United States.[37]

In 2005, AT&T was among 53 entities that contributed the maximum of $250,000 to the second inauguration of President George W. Bush.[38][39][40]

Wireless service

AT&T has received criticisms for its wireless services. In December 2010, Consumer Reports named AT&T as the worst wireless provider in the country.[41]


In August 2009, the band Pearl Jam performed in Chicago at Lollapalooza which was being web-broadcast by AT&T. The band, while playing the song "Daughter", started playing a version of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" but with altered lyrics critical of president George Bush. These lyrics included "George Bush, leave this world alone!" and, "George Bush, find yourself another home!". Listeners to AT&T's web broadcast heard only the first line because the rest was censored,[42] although AT&T spokesman Michael Coe said that the silencing was "a mistake."[43]

In September 2007, AT&T changed[44] their legal policy to state that "AT&T may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by you, without notice for conduct that AT&T believes"..."(c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries."[45] By October 10, 2007 AT&T had altered the terms and conditions for its Internet service to explicitly support freedom of expression by its subscribers, after an outcry claiming the company had given itself the right to censor its subscribers' transmissions.[46]

Section 5.1 of AT&T's new terms of service now reads "AT&T respects freedom of expression and believes it is a foundation of our free society to express differing points of view. AT&T will not terminate, disconnect or suspend service because of the views you or we express on public policy matters, political issues or political campaigns."[47][dubious ]

On July 26, 2009, AT&T customers were unable to access certain sections of the image board 4chan, specifically /b/ (the "random" board) and /r9k/ (the "ROBOT 9000" board, a spin-off of the random board).[48] However, by the morning of Monday, July 27, the block had been lifted and access to the affected boards was restored. AT&T's official reason for the block was that a distributed denial of service attack had originated from the server, and access was blocked to stop the attack.[49] Major news outlets have reported that the issue may be related to DDoSing of 4chan and IP spoofing of 4chan and that the suspicions of 4chan users fell on Kimmo Alm, the person who owned at that time for doing this.[50] Alm has been reported in the past to have DDoSed 4chan.[51]

Privacy controversy

Diagram of how alleged wiretapping worked. From EFF court filings[52]

In 2006, the Electronic Frontier Foundation lodged a class action lawsuit, Hepting v. AT&T, which alleged that AT&T had allowed agents of the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor phone and Internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants. If true, this would violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. AT&T has yet to confirm or deny that monitoring by the NSA is occurring. In April 2006, a retired former AT&T technician, Mark Klein, lodged an affidavit supporting this allegation.[53][54] The Department of Justice has stated they will intervene in this lawsuit by means of State Secrets Privilege.[55] In July 2006, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California – in which the suit was filed – rejected a federal government motion to dismiss the case. The motion to dismiss, which invoked the State Secrets Privilege, had argued that any court review of the alleged partnership between the federal government and AT&T would harm national security. The case was immediately appealed to the Ninth Circuit. It was dismissed on June 3, 2009, citing retroactive legislation in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. [56] In May 2006, USA Today reported that all international and domestic calling records had been handed over to the National Security Agency by AT&T, Verizon, SBC, and BellSouth for the purpose of creating a massive calling database.[57] The portions of the new AT&T that had been part of SBC Communications before November 18, 2005 were not mentioned.

On June 21, 2006, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that AT&T had rewritten rules on their privacy policy. The policy, which took effect June 23, 2006, says that "AT&T – not customers – owns customers' confidential info and can use it 'to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process.' "[58]

On August 22, 2007, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell confirmed that AT&T was one of the telecommunications companies that assisted with the government's warrantless wire-tapping program on calls between foreign and domestic sources.[59]

On November 8, 2007, Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician, told Keith Olbermann of MSNBC that all Internet traffic passing over AT&T lines was copied into a locked room at the company's San Francisco office – to which only employees with National Security Agency clearance had access.[60]

AT&T keeps for five to seven years a record of who text messages who and the date and time, but not the content of the messages.[61]

Intellectual property filtering

In January 2008, the company reported plans to begin filtering all Internet traffic which passes through its network for intellectual property violations.[62] Commentators in the media have speculated that if this plan is implemented, it would lead to a mass exodus of subscribers leaving AT&T,[63] although this is misleading as Internet traffic may go through the company's network anyway.[62] Internet freedom proponents used these developments as justification for government-mandated network neutrality.

Discrimination against local Public-access television channels

AT&T is accused by community media groups of discriminating against local Public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable TV channels:, by "imposing unfair restrictions that will severely restrict the audience".[64]

According to Barbara Popovic, Executive Director of the Chicago public-access service CAN-TV, the new AT&T U-verse system forces all Public-access television into a special menu system, denying normal functionality such as channel numbers, access to the standard program guide, and DVR recording.[64] The Ratepayer Advocates division of the California Public Utilities Commission reported: "Instead of putting the stations on individual channels, AT&T has bundled community stations into a generic channel that can only be navigated through a complex and lengthy process."[64]

Sue Buske (president of telecommunications consulting firm the Buske Group and a former head of the National Federation of Local Cable Programmers/Alliance for Community Media) argue that this is "an overall attack [...] on public access across the [United States], the place in the dial around cities and communities where people can make their own media in their own communities".[64]

Information security

In June 2010, a hacker group known as Goatse Security discovered a vulnerability within the AT&T that could allow anyone to uncover email addresses belonging to customers of AT&T 3G service for the Apple iPad.[65] These email addresses could be accessed without a protective password.[66] Using a script, Goatse Security collected thousands of email addresses from AT&T.[65] Goatse Security informed AT&T about the security flaw through a third party.[67] Goatse Security then disclosed around 114,000 of these emails to Gawker Media, which published an article about the security flaw and disclosure in Valleywag.[65][67] Praetorian Security Group criticized the web application that Goatse Security exploited as "poorly designed".[65]

Naming rights and sponsorships




AT&T sponsors the annual Red River Rivalry football game


  • AT&T (SEPTA station) – Public Transportation Station in Philadelphia, PA

Global presence

AT&T offers services in many locations throughout the Asia Pacific; its regional headquarters is located in Hong Kong.[70]

Enterprise SIP Trunking Services

In 2008, Toshiba announced SIP interoperability with the AT&T IP Flexible Reach service, and this partnership would improve Toshiba's IP-PBX offerings.[71] In 2010, AT&T combined its virtual private network (VPN) service with its IP Flexible Reach.[72]

See also

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