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Many Rural AT&T Customers Still Lack High-Speed Internet Despite

HAZLEHURST, Miss. — Cedric Wiggins thought high-speed Internet would have long since arrived in this corner of rural Mississippi.

He figured this based on promises ATT made publicly to win regulatory approval for its 2006 purchase of his local telephone company, BellSouth.

The $86 billion deal created a telecommunications colossus with customers in 22 states. Consumer advocates opposed the merger as a threat to competition. But ATT’s then-chief executive Edward Whitacre assured Congress that allowing his company to expand would help consumers, supplying “greater access and more choices for broadband, no matter where they live or work.”

That promise carried the day. The Federal Communications Commission allowed the two companies to merge on the condition that ATT offer broadband Internet to every customer in its territory by the end of 2007.

But five years after that deadline, Wiggins, 26, is still waiting. Inside his trailer, his only affordable Internet option is a

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