updated 6/27/2008 4:19:48 PM ET 2008-06-27T20:19:48

AT&T Inc., the nation's largest telecommunications company, said Friday it is moving its corporate headquarters to Dallas from San Antonio for easier access to customers and operations around the world.

AT&T said the move would begin within weeks and is expected to be complete around the end of the year.

The move will put AT&T closer to many of its technology suppliers and help cement the Dallas area as a telecom hub. Nokia Corp., Nortel Networks Corp., Ericsson and others have major operations here.

AT&T expects the move to involve about 700 of its nearly 6,000 San Antonio-based employees.

The company said it would keep its mobile phone headquarters in Atlanta, its business-services group and A&TT Labs in New Jersey, and its phone-directory operations in St. Louis.

Chairman and Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said San Antonio "is a great city with much to offer and it's been good for AT&T." But he suggested it was time to move.

"We're a growing global company with customers and operations around the world," Stephenson said in a statement. "Being headquartered in Dallas will benefit our long-term growth prospects and human resources needs, and our ability to operate more efficiently, better serve customers and expand the business in the future."

The Dallas area has two airports and is home to American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, providing a more extensive network of flights across the country and throughout the world than is available from San Antonio.

AT&T was previously known as Southwestern Bell, one of the regional companies formed by the court-ordered breakup of the Bell monopoly. It served as a local phone company for a five-state region, and moved its headquarters from St. Louis to San Antonio in 1992.

In the past decade, the company grew to a 22-state operator by buying other Baby Bells, expanding to the West Coast and the upper Midwest. It bought AT&T and took over that company's name.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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