The company will record an after-tax charge of $250m (£171m) to $300m (£205m) in restructuring costs. Most of the redundancies will be voluntary.
BellSouth's layoffs are yet another sign that the telecoms market is not recovering as quickly as expected. At the end of 2001, analysts predicted that the telecommunications sector's recovery would be under way by now, but there has been no sign from the companies that it is happening.
In the US alone, more than 60,000 job cuts in telecoms had been announced between January and March this year. Another 38,176 layoffs were announced in April alone, 75% more than in April 2001.
Verizon Communications cut 10,000 jobs in March and WorldCom cut 3,700 in April. Earlier this week, SBC Communications announced it would cut 5,000.
Customers are using landlines less, preferring mobile phones or to e-mail to stay in touch.