Since the 1984 Bell break-up, AT&T has been recreating itself, like the brooms of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice sequence in Fantasia. What were originally 7 regional Bell companies merged into 2 regional Bells, then those two bought the long-distance operators with big market share in the Internet core. AT&T is descended from Southwestern Bell, one of the original 7, and changed names when it bought the long-distance operation.
AT&T has spent most of its corporate life grifting off government. It won huge subsidies to create “universal service” over a century ago, and it eventually won the end of price regulation on the service. It continued its grifting on the Internet. A “universal service fund,” derided as a “Gore Tax” by opponents, was a subsidy, crafted mainly for AT&T, aimed at delivering broadband service to rural areas and urban ghettoes.