Washington: AT&T received final U.S. regulatory approval on Friday to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion, combining the country`s No. 2 wireless carrier with the largest satellite-TV provider.
After more than a year of review, the Federal Communications Commission finalised its vote to approve the merger that creates the nation`s largest pay-TV company, leap-frogging the biggest cable company Comcast Corp. .
AT&T and the FCC, which determines if telecom mergers are in the public interest, have spent recent weeks negotiating conditions, including requirements that AT&T expand its broadband service and ensure that it does not discriminate against rival content.
Compliance officers will monitor AT&T`s adherence to the conditions, which will remain in effect for four years after the merger closes.
The Justice Department, which reviews deals for antitrust concerns, gave the deal its seal of approval on Tuesday, finding no significant risks to competition.
Announced in May 2014, the merger was slated to give DirecTV the lacking broadband product and AT&T new avenues of growth beyond the maturing wireless service. AT&T did not immediately comment.
Video companies Netflix Inc and Dish Network Corp , traffic company Cogent Communications Holdings Inc and others had pushed the FCC to restrict AT&T’s power to slow down or charge fees for web traffic travelling through its networks, and for protections for rival video services.
The issues are addressed by the FCC`s conditions with requirements for AT&T to count its own affiliated video services towards any data caps on fixed broadband connections and to share with the FCC all traffic exchange agreements it strikes with content and web transit companies.
AT&T is also bound by the FCC`s conditions to build out high-speed Internet connections to 12.5 million customer locations. Earlier, the company had committed to expanding access to broadband service in rural areas and to offer standalone Internet service at speeds of at least 6 Megabits per second.
In a first for the FCC, the agency will require AT&T to establish an internal and an independent external compliance officers to ensure AT&T abides by the conditions.
"The conditions imposed by the Commission address potential harms presented by the combination," the FCC said in a statement. "The conditions also ensure that the benefits of the merger will be realized."