Friday, March 09, 2001

AT&T to convene here

Shareholders' annual meeting will be May 23

By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        AT&T Corp., the nation's largest telecommunications company, will hold its annual shareholders' meeting in Cincinnati for the first time, May 23.

        The New York-based company, which is in the process of splitting itself into four businesses, said Thursday the meeting will be at the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center. Typically, several hundred shareholders attend.

        The company, which employs more than 500 and has about 14,900 shareholders in Greater Cincinnati, has moved its meeting to different cities in recent years to give more shareholders a chance to attend.

        AT&T Chairman C. Michael Armstrong, who was in Cincinnati to speak to a joint meeting of the Commonwealth and Commercial clubs Thursday night, said, “This is a city I've always enjoyed.”

        Mr. Armstrong is no stranger to Cincinnati. He is a 1961 graduate of Miami University and his wife, Anne, was a student teacher here while a Miami student.

        In his remarks at the Queen City Club meeting, Mr. Armstrong urged federal and state regulators to “de-monopolize” the Bell operating companies before deregulating them.

        “If we don't, we simply extend the monopoly into competitive markets,” he said in an interview.

        This is the fifth anniversary of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 designed to create competition in local exchange service.

        Local service then “was 96 percent monopolized by the Bell operating companies. Five years later, the Bell operating companies have 96 percent of the local exchange market,” he said.

        What's needed, he said, is for the Federal Communications Commission and state public utility commissions to require the regional Bell operating companies to separate their wholesale networks from their retail operations.

        If they don't, he said, “We run the very real danger today that America is on a course to remonopolize its communications infrastructure.”


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