Prior to 1982, AT&T had a literal monopoly on communications in the U.S. and Canada. While there were some small independent phone companies, they still had to connect to the rest of the world through AT&T. As a result of this monopoly, long distance rates were unbearably high. In addition, all kinds of restrictions were placed on customers who wanted to buck-the-system (the Bell System) and install a non-AT&T phone system. Over time, AT&T lost its monopoly control of the long distance network, and today, they have morphed themselves into a national cell phone call carrier.
Well, as we know, the cell phone business is quite competitive, With competition not being in AT&T's historical DNA, it now appears they are on the prowl to monopolize the cable and satellite channel business. The first step took place when it bought DirecTV. DirecTV has 19 million customers. Then, this year, they announced a tentative agreement to buy Time Warner, which is subject to approval by the federal government. If allowed, they would control one of the largest entertainment conglomerates in the world that includes a cable company and powerhouse services such as HBO, CNN, TBS, the CW, Warner Brothers, D.C. Comics and so much more.
To me, and others, this is a deal that should not go through in its entirety. It concentrates too much power in the hands of AT&T. In fact, I've always questioned the concentration of power by Time Warner, and if the deal is approved, what's next? Disney? Another massive conglomerate, that would give AT&T massive control of entertainment in this country and around the world.
AT&T-Time Warner deal would create the nation's largest entertainment company and is already raising antitrust concerns: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-trump-att-time-warner-20161022-snap-story.html
Breakup of the Bell System: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakup_of_the_Bell_System
Time Warner: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Warner
The Walt Disney Company: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Walt_Disney_Company