AT&T is closer to successfully taking over DirecTV, as FCC chair Tom Wheeler is supporting the approval of the merger between the two companies.
Wheeler issued a statement confirming that an order recommending that the merger be approved had been circulated to FCC commissioners. "The proposed order outlines a number of conditions that will directly benefit consumers by bringing more competition to the broadband marketplace," Wheeler wrote. The FCC head said the deal would be in consumer interest, bringing faster, better fiber internet to a huge number of new locations. "If the conditions are approved by my colleagues, 12.5 million customer locations will have access to a competitive high-speed fiber connection. This additional build-out is about 10 times the size of AT&T's current fiber-to-the-premise deployment, increases the entire nation's residential fiber build by more than 40 percent, and more than triples the number of metropolitan areas AT&T has announced plans to serve."
The statement also addressed the matter of net neutrality and the conditions of the deal designed to enshrine the principles laid out by the FCC earlier this year. "The conditions will build on the Open Internet Order already in effect, addressing two merger-specific issues. First, in order to prevent discrimination against online video competition, AT&T will not be permitted to exclude affiliated video services and content from data caps on its fixed broadband connections. Second, in order to bring greater transparency to interconnection practices, the company will be required to submit all completed interconnection agreements to the Commission, along with regular reports on network performance."
AT&T announced its intent to acquire DirecTV for $48.5 billion in May of last year. The plan would give AT&T access to millions of television subscribers and allow DirecTV to expand beyond satellite TV.