Most MSNBC.com readers gave a "thumbs down" to the question of whether the government should approve AT&T's proposed $67 billion acquisition of BellSouth. Many readers, responding to the story in e-mail, fear the proposed deal will result in layoffs and higher prices for consumers. But some think the government never should have busted up Ma Bell in the first place. Here's a sampling of the responses:
"What happened to the lowly consumer? I have Cingular Wireless and the cellphone service is lousy. We pay and pay and the only people reaping the rewards are big business."
G. Dacey, Rockledge, Fla.
"Hell no. They had bad service to begin with so why would this make it any better? The selling of America, Damn those Republicans."
William, Longboat Key, Fla.
"I am a veteran of the wireless industry and have an observation even a child could understand: Humpty Dumpty owned telco heaven. Then the MFJ broke him into seven. But all the RBOC Kings and LD men, Worked hard to put Humpty together again."
Thomas N. Ellsworth, Northridge, Calif.
"No, it should not be allowed. This is going back to the core group it was that government required to be broken up to begin with."
Keath Rhymer,Indianapolis, Ind.
"How is the merger of two huge corporations, that are doing fine on their own; and the loss of 10,000 jobs suppose to be good for the economy or telecommunications service? Seems to me its only good for the top management's bank accounts."
"No, I don't think the deal should be approved. I'm sick and tired of these huge corporations laying off their employees just to make more money. Corporate America has way too much power!"
"I do NOT believe that this sale should go through. This would make ATT the largest telecommunications company in the country. But let's look at just what country the employees would be working in. Almost as soon as the news of this sale became public, along came the news that 10,000 jobs would be cut. ATT already outsources their customer service department to India and who knows where else. Where do you think those 10,000 lost jobs would go? Not to anyone in the USA!! We are selling off our country piece by piece while big business sits back and gets richer and richer. WAKE UP AMERICA!!! One day you will be standing there scratching your head wondering where the hell your country went!"
Karen Pollock,Minneapolis Minn.
"No, these types of deals never result in significant savings for the consumer. Look at the cable industry, or energy deregulation here in Texas."
George, Ft. Worth, Texas
"I think they are defeating the breakup decisions made years ago. The government may have to repeat the breakup if this trend isn't stopped. No, I don't think it should be approved."
John Lundgren,Santa Ana, Calif.
"Yes, it was a stupid mistake to break up AT&T in the beginning. No anti-trust action has ever benefited consumers."
William Bradley,New Bedford, Mass.
"NO NO NO. That was why we had de-regulation in the first place -- to prevent these large super-mergers that are forming to drive prices sky high."
Elizabeth Burns, Penn.
"Totally ridiculous! Are we going to the phone companies back into one system again? This is a bad idea."
Ken Ward, Vineyard Haven, Mass.
"I think it should be approved. It was only a matter of time before all the kings’ men put Mama Bell back together again!"
Tony Buonauro, Crystal Lake, Ill.
"No! Good competition is the only way to protect the consumer. This type of merger will only motivate other Telcom Giants to do the same."
James E Dugay,Purcellville, Va.
"No, Bell South is the more efficient manager and operator and should absorb AT&T."
Jack Hagopian,Huntsville, Ala.
"No! We have seen year after year with mergers like Mobile/Exxon, AT&T/Cingular and others that they do not reduce cost because there is a lack of competition. These businesses turn around and have to spend the savings on the actual cost of the merger and combining the systems-which ends up costing even more. Mergers should not be permitted unless the companies are in different businesses. For example: Trucking & Shipping like FedEx did some years ago with their ground division."
Bob Hugel,Clayton, N.C.
"Cool, but like most mergers AT&T has been involved with, it's has not been a money-making success with it's shareholders."
George,Wichita Falls, Texas
"No, by allowing this merger we are looking at another telecommunications monopoly again."
Candi, Nashville, Tenn.
"The primary reason I chose another provider was the notorious terrible AT&T customer service. Now I am being faced with the prospect of changing again. This merger should not be allowed. Moreover, the management of Bell South should be fired for even considering it."
Arthur Conover,Doylestown, Penn.
"I think that the deal should not be approved, because this would constitute as a stepping stone to the Ma Bell era. The deal will also hinder competition and could be deemed as the start of AT&T monopolizing the market. Additionally, the higher prices that AT&T could implement will have a major impact on consumers, especially with gas prices being so high right now. The economy could not withstand the AT&T-BellSouth deal, and the surge in current gas prices."
"BellSouth hasn't provided the value to its shareholders that it should have. They just tried to hang on to their little piece of the world and provide their management a comfortable living. AT&T is a dynamic company putting together a national (and international) presence that can compete with the cable industry in distributing information and entertainment. This needed to happen. The only question left is who wants Quest."
Stephen E. Martin, Corinth, Texas
"NO, The original deal that split AT&T had at its roots in competition that would spur the six baby bells into laboratories where new technologies would be developed. Now with this merger we will have an oligarchy replacing the monopoly. Gee; I guess we no longer need those laboratories for new technology? This merger will ultimately mean three things 1) less jobs for American workers, 2) more profits for AT&T and 3) higher phone bills for all Americans."
"I say no. It’s only going to reduce jobs instead of creating jobs."
Robert Lacey, Bethel, Ohio
"No, it should not get the OK. The old Company was split up for a reason and alternate ways of commutation are not yet there in all areas BellSouth covers."
Jerry R. Fisher,Lexington, Ky.
"YES it will be good for the consumer."
Don Martin, Lenoir City , Tenn.
"I had a career with AT&T, and then in 1983 they were broken up. Now they’re back together again. Who has gained by all this? Nobody but big business. That’s the way America works. Should have left it alone to begin with."
Michael, Daytona Beach, Fla.
"AT&T is part of American history, but it shouldn't be allowed to become the behemoth it once was. I'm quite certain that, if Teddy Roosevelt were alive today, this type of merger would never be approved! It's time our leaders think of the average American again, just as T.R. once did."
Stewart, Blythe, Calif.
"Most certainly no. Consumers have benefited greatly by the demise of the telecommunications giant. Allowing this monster to regain a leadership position in the industry will decrease opportunities, decrease consumer options, and increase pricing due to decreased competition. Ma Bell should have been buried long ago."
R. Nickerson, Anchorage, Alaska
"I doubt it can be stopped."
Soon 2 B unemployed,Atlanta
"Absolutely, the break-up of the Bell System has proved to be one of the biggest mistakes in U.S. corporate history."
Jim Cook,San Francisco Calif.
"Yes, the old system should have never been broken up in the first place it led to confusion and rise and fall of what people thought would be competitors."
Ronald Di Domizio,Lancaster, Calif.
"Absolutely not! With the one of the most powerful ongoing lobby efforts in Washington and every state to stifle competition this is just a bad idea. It will further prevent competition from forming as we have already seen them do in local phone service. The next target will be the internet."