The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially granted AT&T’s bid to purchase DirecTV. The deal comes with conditions, and positions AT&T’s customer count near the levels of what Comcast and Time Warner would have been.
The deal is said to be worth $48.5 billion. Neither AT&T or DirecTV has officially commented on the news yet. In a statement, the FCC said it allowed the merger after careful consideration:
The Commission’s decision is based on a careful, thorough review of the record, which includes extensive economic analysis and documentary data from the applicants, as well as comments from interested parties. Based on this review, the Commission has determined that granting the application, subject to certain conditions, is in the public interest.
The aforementioned conditions mean AT&T will have to “expand its deployment of high-speed, fiber optic broadband Internet access service to 12.5 million customer locations as well as to E-rate eligible schools and libraries.” There can also be no “discriminatory practices to disadvantage online video services.”
The conditions are meant to offset “potential harms” that may come with allowing the nation’s largest satellite providers and one of the largest telephone operators to merge, says the FCC. They are also in place to help “realize the potential” of this merger, and will remain in place for four years.
Additionally, AT&T must offer discounted broadband rates to low-income subscribers, and file Internet connection agreements with the FCC.
Perhaps most intriguing here is the “discriminatory” practices the FCC is railing against. In outlining the requirements for this merger, the FCC says it “recognizes AT&T is the only major ISP that applies ‘data caps’ across the board to all of its fixed broadband customers and that this merger increases the incentive of AT&T-DIRECTV to use strategies that limit consumers’ access to online video distribution services in order to favor its own video services.”
The FCC is trying to make sure AT&T doesn’t subvert its net neutrality ruling from earlier this year.