To say there has been consolidation in the telecom market over the last decade would obviously be an understatement. Competitive telecom companies, which entered the market by the hundreds after passage of the federal Telecommunications Act, have merged with each other (or have been acquired) as a means of survival or market penetration. The (then) giants of the telecom world have also consolidated into mega-regional communications companies. SBC acquired Pacific Telesis, Southern New England Telephone, Ameritech (which itself acquired Illinois Bell, Indiana Bell, Michigan Bell, Ohio Bell and Wisconsin Bell), and most recently AT&T. The new AT&T became the largest telecom company in the U.S. Now it is proposing to acquire BellSouth, currently the third largest telecom company in the U.S. (For more information on the history of telecom mergers, visit

The FCC and the Department of Justice have given their blessing to the “mega-mergers,” and most expect the same treatment of the proposed AT&T/BellSouth merger. But, the question that has recently arisen is whether the courts will “disrupt” or impose modifications on these mergers under the Tunney Act.   Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently scheduled a hearing to investigate the DOJ’s review of SBC’s acquisition of AT&T and Verizon’s acquisition of MCI. While observers do not anticipate Judge Sullivan overturning the mergers, it remains to be seen whether the court will aggressively scrutinize the DOJ’s review or impose modifications on these mergers. Moreover, will the court’s recent action put pressure on the DOJ to increase its own scrutiny of the proposed AT&T/BellSouth merger? In short, will it be the courts that impact the shape of the telecom industry once again? For more information about the recent hearing scheduled by Judge Sullivan, visit