WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- AT&T Inc. Friday won U.S. approval to complete an $85 billion takeover of BellSouth Corp. after it made a series of consumer-friendly concessions.
The Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved the deal, the largest ever in U.S. telecommunications history, saying "significant public interest benefits are likely to result from this transaction."
The merger creates a $220 billion company that will serve more than 70 million local phone customers in 22 states, as well as 10 million broadband users, The Wall Street Journal reported.
AT&T's concessions included an agreement to offer high-speed DSL Internet service to residential customers for $19.95 a month and cap prices on high-volume data lines used by business customers.
It also agreed to observe numerous "network neutrality" principles so it would treat all Internet content equally -- and not give priority to providers such as Google Inc. at the expense of others.
AT&T will also take over cell phone operator Cingular Wireless, which has been a joint AT&T-BellSouth venture. AT&T has said it would phase out the Cingular brand next year and replace it with the AT&T name.