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FCC Set to Approve AT&T's $49 Billion DirecTV Purchase

Approval would come with conditions requiring expansion of high-speed fiber-to-the-home and barring preferential billing treatment for AT&T's own video services.

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An order that would approve AT&T’s $49 billion purchase of DirecTV, with certain conditions, is being circulated among the five members of the Federal Communications Commission, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Tuesday.

The conditions, Wheeler said, including guarantees from AT&T on expanding its fiber-to-the-home as well as an agreement not to exclude its own video services from data caps on its home broadband connections.

“The proposed order outlines a number of conditions that will directly benefit consumers by bringing more competition to the broadband marketplace,” Wheeler said. “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.”

Wheeler said the FCC will also require an independent officer responsible for ensuring compliance with the conditions. “These strong measures will protect consumers, expand high-speed broadband availability and increase competition,” he said.

The Department of Justice also gave its blessing to the deal Tuesday, paving the way for it to be completed once the FCC finalizes its approval.

“We are pleased that an order to approve our DirecTV transaction with certain conditions is circulating at the FCC,” AT&T said in a statement. “We hope the order will be approved by the Commission quickly and we expect to close shortly thereafter.”

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Tuesday that the deal was nearing regulatory approval.

AT&T has been trying to assure regulators that approval of the deal would not affect the company’s commitment to both fiber and rural broadband deployment.

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