Wheeler Confirms AT&T-DirecTV Order Circulation

Following news reports that the AT&T/DirecTV deal approval order had been circulated, Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed the stories and outlined the key conditions in the deal, including disallowing data cap carveouts for affiliated online video services and requiring AT&T to submit interconnection agreements to the FCC for perusal.

In a statement, Wheeler said that the conditions included expanded high-speed broadband buildouts, as well as conditions related to broadband speeds and interconnections. It had been clear from the outset that broadband speed and access issues were key to the deal-vetting.

“An order recommending that the AT&T/DirecTV transaction be approved with conditions has circulated to the Commissioners. 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."

The deal approval has been expected for several weeks, with network neutrality and interconnection-related conditions said to have been part of the holdup.

Wheeler said that AT&T won't be allowed to exempt affiliated fixed broadband video services from data caps and will have to submit its interconnection agreements to the FCC.

Wheeler also said the FCC will require that an independent compliance officer will oversee those and other conditions. "These strong measures will protect consumers, expand high-speed broadband availability, and increase competition.”

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.