AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV is almost a done deal with The US Department of Justice (DoJ) today giving it its blessing. The proposed $48.5 billion merger has also been given the thumbs up by the head of The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
The news that The DoJ would not be challenging the acquisition removed the largest possible merger obstacle as it had been feared it may oppose the deal as it did recently with a proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.
The DoJ’s antitrust division’s Attorney General Bill Baer said “After an extensive investigation, we concluded that the combination of AT&T’s land-based internet and video business with DirecTV’s satellite-based video business does not pose a significant risk to competition.”
Tom Wheeler, FCC chairman, said today he would be recommending the commission give the acquistion a yes vote.
Wheeler circulated a memo to fellow commissioners requesting them to sign off on the acquisition if AT&T agreed to some conditions, including the expansion of its residential fiber network, and stricter adherence to net neutrality provisions.
He estimated the deal should grow AT&T’s current fiber network tenfold and increase by 40 percent U.S. residential fiber access.
Another of Wheelers requirements would mean AT&T eliminating any wired service data cap exemptions to affiliated video services, forcing it to treat all video streaming traffic equally in user access terms.
“Importantly, we will require an independent officer to help ensure compliance with these and other proposed conditions,” Wheeler said. “These strong measures will protect consumers, expand high-speed broadband availability, and increase competition.”
With the sign off on the merger, AT&T will have to submit regular reports to the FCC on “network performance”, and the FCC will appoint an “independent officer” to “help ensure compliance with these and other proposed conditions.”