SBC is attracted to AT&T's strength in the corporate sector and would likely keep the AT&T name because of its wide recognition and good reputation among businesses, said David Willis, senior research analyst at the META Group, a research company in Stamford, Conn.
AT&T's residential business, on the other hand, was once its core but has faced more competition amid lower profits as cellular service providers and cable companies edged their way into the phone business. So last year, AT&T, based in Bedminster, N.J., discontinued marketing residential long-distance service to new customers.
AT&T's roots go back to 1875 when Alexander Graham Bell formed a partnership as he was trying to invent a "talking telegraph" - a telephone. But as AT&T lost its monopoly, the company has yo-yoed like an unsuccessful dieter.