Today, several news agencies reported that SBC Communications (NYSE:SBC) may change its name to AT&T (NYSE:T) when it acquires the venerable telecom. However, investors should ponder whether that name stands for honored tradition or creaky obsolescence. Maybe, just maybe, it's getting a little old.

Clearly, the AT&T moniker -- which originally stood for American Telephone & Telegraph Co. -- is known worldwide. AT&T definitely has history on its side, considering that it's been around for more than 100 years. There are many great brands in the world, but few have AT&T's lineage. According to the news reports, that name recognition may have SBC leaning toward adopting the AT&T name, since SBC is only widely recognized in certain regions of the country.

On the other hand, AT&T's lineage comes with a great deal of baggage from its century-plus tenure in American communications. For those of us in the right age bracket, it calls to mind the old monopoly, its breakup, and the birth of the Baby Bells (including SBC).

Meanwhile, of course, the telecom industry has changed dramatically in recent years, facing various disruptive threats. Consumers have more options than ever for communicating with friends and family. Look at the success of Skype, a service that hasn't even been around two years, much less a century, and has already corralled 51 million registered users and 2 million paying customers. Vonage, a voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) upstart, came out of nowhere to threaten the telecom traditionalists, and cable providers like Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) have also stepped into the arena. Just yesterday, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) increased its own interest in providing VoIP.

What's my point? Well, when you're dealing with an industry facing so much dramatic and tumultuous change, a powerful old brand may not mean that much at all. Perhaps the bells should finally toll for AT&T.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.