AT&T and DirecTV’s $48.5 billion merger has been approved today following more than a year of regulatory review. The merger will see AT&T become the biggest pay-TV company, passing up cable company Comcast. AT&T says it will serve more than 26 million U.S. customers and 19 million users in Latin America.
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As part of the regulatory approval, the FCC has applied several conditions to the merger, all of which will be imposed for four years and enforced by internal and external compliance officers. Some of the conditions include protections for rival companies and a requirement that AT&T expand high-speed Internet to schools and low-income areas.
AT&T has promised to buildout high-speed Internet to more than 12.5 million customers and to sell Internet access to Americans without building it with TV services. AT&T will also have to share all traffic exchange agreements it makes with content and web transit companies with the FCC.
The Justice Department remarked that it found no significant reasons for the merger not to be completed and coupled with the conditions set forth by the FCC, the benefits of the merger will be realized.
AT&T is, of course, pleased by the news and the opportunities it opens up:
“We’ll now be able to meet consumers’ future entertainment preferences, whether they want traditional TV service with premier programming, their favorite content on a mobile device, or video streamed over the Internet to any screen,” AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said.