AT&T-DirecTV Merger Gets FCC Chairman's Conditional Approval

Associated Press
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler

Tom Wheeler stipulates that AT&T should ensure that 12.5 million customer locations will have access to a high-speed fiber connection.

More than a year after AT&T agreed to a $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV, chairman of the FCC Tom Wheeler has recommended the merger be approved, though only if certain concessions are met.

The FCC said Tuesday that Wheeler circulated his order to the four other commissioners and that it is up to them to either approve of it or not.

Wheeler's recommendation order stipulates that AT&T should ensure that 12.5 million customer locations will have access to a high-speed fiber connection, which represents a build-out 10 times the size of the telecom company's current fiber-to-premise deployment.

Wheeler also asks that AT&T "build on the Open Internet Order already in affect," meaning, for example, that AT&T would "not be permitted to exclude affiliated video services and content from data caps on its fixed broadband connections."

The chairman also says he seeks to require an independent officer to ensure AT&T's compliance with the proposed conditions.

"These strong measures will protect consumers, expand high-speed broadband availability and increase competition," Wheeler said in a statement issued to the press on Tuesday.

The Justice Department has already approved the merger so the FCC's permission is the final hurdle before the deal can be closed.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com 

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