December 30, 2013
What's going to happen with prices and service for the TV and Internet business that competes against cable providers in Connecticut? And what will become of AT&T's 4,600 employees in the state? Those questions gained urgency on Dec. 17, when AT&T agreed to sell its wireline franchise in the state to Stamford-based Frontier Communications for $2 billion in cash. The deal comes 15 years after AT&T predecessor SBC Corp. paid $6.4 billion (in today's dollars) for the old Southern New England Telecommunications Corp. Since then, SBC and AT&T have sheared the size of the staff in half as the number of wirelines has shrunk from 2.3 million to 900,000. AT&T says the 1,900 Connecticut employees it's keeping for wireless and consulting will not see significant layoffs. And Frontier CEO Maggie Wilderotter says she can save $200 million in annual expenses without deep job cuts. The reason: Locally directed Frontier, which specializes in rural wireline service across the country, is far more efficient than AT&T, Wilderotter says. Connecticut now has a big stake in that claim.