Following the U.S. Department of Justice's decision to force the American Telephone & Telegraph Company to spin off its local telephone companies in 1984, two of its subsidiaries, Southern Bell in Georgia and South Central Bell in Alabama, merged to form BellSouth Telecommunications. However, AT&T, which itself had broken off from the American Telephone & Telegraph Company and previously operated as Southwestern Bell, acquired BellSouth in 2006 for $86 billion in stock.
When BellSouth Telecommunications emerged from the Southern Bell and South Central Bell merger, the company was able to centralize its key engineering and IT functions. BellSouth offered service in a number of states, including Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. BellSouth's main centers of operation continued to be Atlanta and Birmingham, but the company established operation centers in each state. The company's services included telephone, Internet and satellite connectivity in select states through a DirecTV partnership.
Over time, BellSouth's main revenue sources became its wireless and broadband transmission services. In 2003, BellSouth discontinued its payphone operations, with Cincinnati Bell and numerous independent companies taking over. The company merged BellSouth Mobility, its cellphone subsidiary, with Southwestern Bell's wireless unit to create Cingular Wireless. BellSouth held 40 percent of the joint venture. The two companies also partnered to create Yellowpages.com. Southwestern Bell acquired AT&T for $16 billion in 2005 and adopted its name, setting the stage for its 2006 acquisition.
The FCC approved the final amalgamation, contingent upon AT&T's two-year commitment to network neutrality, the sale of part of the company's wireless spectrum, an agreement to extend high-speed Internet service to all local phone customers and a promise to allow customers to purchase Internet subscriptions without phone services.