TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Cincinnati Bell and SNET (was Cingular & at&t)

Cincinnati Bell and SNET (was Cingular & at&t)

Mike Z (
Sun, 13 May 2007 07:54:52 +0000

PAT: do NOT display my email address!

Steven Lichter wrote:

> John Levine wrote:

>> Lisa Hancock wrote:

>>> [ ... ] after divesture whatever happened to Bell Canada and
>>> Cincinnatti Bell, of which I believe AT&T didn't own very much.

>> It's been a long time since AT&T owned any of Bell Canada. It's
>> quite healthy, and remains the dominant telco in eastern Canada.
>> Their holding comapny BCE has bought a variety of other stuff,
>> notably the Globe and Mail which is Canada's largest newspaper.

> From what I remember Cinci Bell was never a Bell company, much like
> one on the East Coast now owned by at&t.

While it is true that pre-divestiture AT&T owned less than 50% of
Cincinnati Bell and Connecticut's SNET (Southern New England Tel), and
that Judge Greene treated each one "separately" for the 1984
divestiture, AT&T did consider both to be "Bell" telcos prior to
1984. Both of them were fully able to participate in Western Electric
and Bell Labs licensing, patents, trademarks, products, technology,
etc. Both of these "partially AT&T held" telcos also used the "Bell"
logo all throughout the pre-1984 "Bell System" history.

Prior to 1984, there were times when you'd see lists of the various
Bell operating companies of the "Bell System", and both Cincinnati
Bell and Southern New England Tel would indeed be included in the
list, although sometimes at the end of the list, or as a passing
"footnote", but they were indeed frequently mentioned in lists of the
operating telcos of the Bell System. Also, AT&T did treat them, and
Bell Canada as well, a bit more "special", since AT&T did realize that
they were NOT the controlling entity,

At divestiture, I think that Greene made AT&T sell-off their actual
less-than-50% shares of Cincinnati Bell and SNET. Cincinnati Bell was
NOT placed under Ameritech -- SNET was NOT placed under NYNEX. Some
industry documents in the post-divestiture period began to list
Cincinnati Bell and SNET as "independent" or non-BOC telcos. Of course
in the post-divestiture period, especially as we got further away from
1984, what "really" does Bell vs. "independent" stand for anymore,
especially now that Qwest is both a former BOC (US West's Mountain
Bell, Pacific Northwest Bell, Northwestern Bell) *and* a competitive
long distance provider, and that VeriZon is even more "unique" in that
it is: a merger of two BOCs (Bell Atlantic's various Bell telcos and
NYNEX' two Bell telcos), a merger of two one-time *independent* telcos
(GTE and Contel, GTE once the largest "independent" telco), and even
more recently buying out *MCI*, that entity that was the first
competitive long distance company that "started it all"!

SNET, Southern New England Telephone Company, did NOT have the word
"Bell" in their name, and also dropped the "Bell" logo immediately at

Cincinnati Bell retained the use of the "Bell" logo until very
recently. Sometime in 2006, Cincinnati Bell seems to have dropped the
use of the 1970s-era "Bell" logo in their ads and such, but they still
retain the use of "Bell" in their name. Yes, Broadwing was the name of
the hodling company of Cincinnati Bell for some time, at least in the
1990s, but I don't presently see their name associated with Cincinnati
Bell anymore.

SNET was bought out by SBC about ten years ago, about the same time
that SBC (formerly known as Southwestern Bell) bought out one of the
seven resulting post-divestiture Bell holding companies, Pacific
Telesis. I think that SBC's takeover of Pacific Telesis and SNET was
the first time that one regional Bell holding company bought out any
other. It pre-dates Bell Atlantic's takeover of NYNEX by about a year,
IIRC. SBC then subsequently bought out Ameritech, and then AT&T, and
now-SBC's "at&t" buys out BellSouth.

Pacific Telesis was the post-divestiture holding company for both
Nevada Bell, and California's Pacific Bell (prior to 1984 known as
Pacific Telephone (and Telegraph).

AT&T always did own a minority share of Bell Canada and other
associated telco operations in Canada, but they did own a nice
sizeable minority share of Bell Canada at one time. In the 1956
consent decree, it was decided that AT&T would reduce their holdings
of Bell Canada over a twenty year period. By the late 1960s or early
1970s, AT&T was down to owning just 2% of Bell Canada. During that
time, Bell Canada and Northern Electric began to start their own R&D
operation called "Bell Northern Research", since when the final
separation would come, they would no longer have the same "Bell"
rights to Western Electric and Bell Labs R&D/etc. BNR and Northern
Electric (later Northern Telcom or Nortel) began to develop things
like the DMS switch and TOPS operator service platform, in direct
competition to what Western Electric had been offering. It was during
1975, about ten years prior to the effective 1984 date of the US' Bell
System divestiture, when the final separation finally took effect
regarding the US' AT&T/Western Electric/Bell Labs, and Canada's Bell
Canada/Northern Electric (now Telecom/Bell Northern Research.

With 1975, Bell Canada dropped all use of the "Bell" logo, and they
were using the 1964-68 version even into the early 1970s -- they never
did switch over to the 1970s+ "Bell" logo. And Bell Canada began to be
treated by AT&T and the rest of the North American telco industry as
any other "independent" telco. But at one time, especially prior to
the 1970s-era, Bell Canada was frequently treated, listed, etc., just
like any other AT&T-held Bell telco in the US.

It's also interesting to note that in more recent years, both AT&T and
Bell Canada no longer own their R&D/manufacturing operations! AT&T's
Western Electric was spun-off into Lucent which has now been taken
over by France's Alcatel, and Bell Canada no longer owns Nortel.

But what's also interesting to note is that for a few years in the
later 1990s and into the 2000s, 20% of Bell Canada was owned by
Ameritech. When SBC bought out Ameritech circa 2000, they inherited
this 20% of Bell Canada. While Bell Canada bought back this 20% about
a year or two later (2002?), it would have been quite interesting if
SBC still held this 20% of Bell Canada when they also bought out AT&T
in late 2005! *IF* Bell Canada were still 20% held by SBC, when SBC
bought out AT&T almost two years ago, I wonder if Bell Canada would
have changed their logos and such to "at&t" (lowercase)!?

AT&T did invest in Unitel (and Rogers, Cantel, etc) for a while in the
1990s, and Unitel was renamed AT&T-Canada Long Distance as well.
Unitel was originally the telecom operations (telephone, telegraph,
telex, etc) of the dominant telegraph/telex carrier in Canada which
was once the two major railways, Canadian National and Canadian
Pacific. Unitel or AT&T-Canada LD was in direct competition with the
incumbent Canadian telcos which includes the one-time partially
AT&T-held Bell Canada! But by 2002, AT&T began to withdraw from their
one-time Unitel operations in Canada, which became known as Allstream.
Then Manitoba's MTS (the provincial local and toll incumbent telco)
buys into Allstream. (and MTS was also partially held by Bell Canada
for a few years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, until Bell sold
their shares).

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