AT&T offers more concessions for BellSouth acquisition

Provider pledges to maintain a 'neutral network' and not prioritize traffic

In a bid to win approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for its planned US$67 billion acquisition of BellSouth Corp., AT&T Inc. has expanded the set of concessions it's offering to overcome opposition to the deal.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has already given its approval for the deal, but FCC commissioners are split, with some concerned about whether the deal will reduce competition in the market. Competing carriers and consumer groups have also lobbied the commission to block the deal.

In November, the FCC cancelled plans to consider AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth -- the second time that the commission delayed considering the proposed buy-out.

AT&T laid out its latest concessions in a letter sent to the FCC on Thursday, Dec. 28. Among the conditions offered in the letter, AT&T pledged to maintain a "neutral network" and not prioritize or degrade network traffic based on "source, ownership or destination."

AT&T also pledged to maintain the number of "settlement" Internet peering agreements that exist on the merger closing date for three years. If any of the 10 largest organizations that maintain peering agreements with AT&T and BellSouth shut down during this three-year period, the company will replace that relationship with another peering agreement, it said.