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September 22, 2006

AT&T Wireless is back

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 12:29 PM

The Federal Communications Commission late Thursday is headed toward approving AT&T Inc.'s $67 billion purchase of BellSouth with no conditions, sources close to the matter told Bloomberg.

The FCC could vote on the matter at its Oct. 12 meeting.

Following the merger, AT&T will own Cingular Wireless outright, and most likely will rename the division to AT&T Wireless.

The brand hasn't been used since Cingular purchased AT&T Wireless in 2004 for $41 billion in cash.

But when AT&T announced its acquisition of BellSouth, it said the AT&T Wireless brand would re-emerge to replace Cingular.

(To make matters more complicated, AT&T today is actually the result of SBC Communications' acquisition of AT&T; the merged company adopted the AT&T name. Cingular is jointly owned by SBC -- now AT&T -- and BellSouth.)

The move could be controversial because of how successful the Cingular Wireless brand has been and customer issues that propped up just before the merger with AT&T Wireless.

For those keeping track, here's the lineage:

--In 1994, AT&T purchased McCaw Cellular Communications for $11.5 billion to form AT&T Wireless, based in Redmond.

-- In April 2000, AT&T Wireless raised $10.6 billion in a public offering, making it the largest IPO ever at the time.

-- In 2001, AT&T spun off AT&T Wireless to become a standalone company.

-- In 2004, Cingular Wireless purchased AT&T Wireless for $41 billion in cash, and renamed the company AT&T Wireless.

Next up: Cingular Wireless will be renamed AT&T Wireless.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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