The turning point in these drawn out talks may well have been comments from Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat of Michigan. He is expected to chair the House energy and commerce committee, which oversees the FCC.
Even though he had been skeptical of the merger, he urged the FCC not to bog down the approval process with conditions that have nothing to do with the deal itself. That seemed to be a signal that Congress, not the FCC, should tackle with Net Neutrality issue with a broader law that applies to the entire industry. In that sense, Dingell was the hidden “fifth” member of the FCC, much as George Martin was the behind-the-scenes fifth Beatle.
Once Dingell weighed in, AT&T and BellSouth were set to rock and roll.