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AT&T-BellSouth: Together at Last

A compromise on Net neutrality and other price concessions finally allow the long-awaited telecom merger to get the O.K.

It took longer than expected, but AT&T (T) finally won government approval for its $85 billion deal to combine with BellSouth (BLS). On Dec. 29, the last business day of 2006, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve the largest merger ever in the U.S. telecom industry.

Market analysts originally expected the deal to be approved months ago. The process was extended as critics tried to block the deal or push for tougher concessions, arguing that the combined company would raise prices and exert too much control over the distribution of phone calls and Internet traffic.