AT&T’s proposed acquisition of DirecTV is one step closer to reality as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has given the deal his stamp of approval.
In a statement on the matter, Wheeler said he circulated a recommendation to approve the deal among his fellow commissioners on Tuesday. It’s worth mentioning that the majority of commissioners must also side with Wheeler, something that doesn’t appear to be a hurdle at this stage. Analysts expect the FCC to give the deal the green light by the end of the week.
The Department of Justice has also confirmed that the deal won’t meet resistance on its end.
The nation’s second largest wireless provider formally announced its intentions to buy the nation’s largest satellite television provider a little over a year ago. The deal, valued at $48.5 billion, also includes AT&T taking on all of DirecTV’s debt which pushes the true value to over $67 billion.
Some may be questioning why this acquisition is set to gain regulatory approval when other mega deals like Comcast’s attempt to merge with Time Warner Cable earlier this year and even AT&T’s own buyout of T-Mobile a few years back both failed. The answer is actually quite simple.
AT&T and DirecTV operate in two different – albeit rapidly converging – industries and thus, their merger isn’t viewed as harmful to competition.
In order to gain regulatory approval, AT&T will be required to adhere to a handful of conditions. Wheeler said AT&T must agree to expand its high-speed fiber connections to cover 12.5 million customer locations, a build-out that is about 10 times the size of the company’s current fiber deployment.
Wheeler also said AT&T will not be permitted to exclude affiliated video services and content from data caps on its fixed broadband connections. What’s more, the company will be required to submit all completed interconnection agreements to the FCC along with regular reports on network performance.
The chairman said these measures will protect consumers, expand high-speed broadband availability and increase competition.