Justice Okays CenturyLink/Level Three Merger

The Justice Department has said it is OK with CenturyLink's proposed merger with Level 3, contingent on the spin-off some dark fiber and metro network assets.

CenturyLink said the conditions had been outlined in a consent decree to which it has agreed. The deal is still subject to approval by the FCC.

CenturyLink must divest CenturyLink metro network assets in Albuquerque, N.M.; Boise, Idaho; and Tucson, Ariz., but can still serve those customers if they choose the combined company over the buyer of the divested assets.

Related: CenturyLink Teams With French Firm for New OTT TV Service

The merged company will also divest 24 strands of dark fiber (not currently in use).

“We are pleased that the Department of Justice has conditionally cleared CenturyLink’s acquisition of Level It is an important milestone in our overall approval process,” said CenturyLink senior VP John F. Jones. “We anticipate court approval of our agreed resolution with the Department of Justice as early as this week. We are focused on meeting our targeted transaction closing timeframe of mid-to-late October.”

The merger, which was filed last December, is valued at $34 billion including debt.

Back in April—as the FCC prepared to vote on deregulating the businesses data services (BDS) market—the Wireline Competition Bureau asked for more information from ILEC CenturyLink and merger partner Level 3 on how their merger would affect competition for business services.

Along with the AT&T-Time Warner merger, it is one of the first big media mergers to be vetted primarily under the Donald Trump administration.

Among the pro-consumer benefits the companies are touting are better service, more competition, more broadband deployment and investment.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.