The wedding of AT&T and DirecTV actually makes the merged entity a bigger MVPD than Comcast, and it’s bigger than Charter/TWC/Bright House will be if that one is approved. But the conditions on the deal are directed at internet issues.
The conditions involve making high-speed service more widely available in general, and more widely available to schools and low income subscribers, along with following net neutrality concepts.
From the FCC, here’s the laundry list:
* Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) Deployment. Recognizing that the merger reduces AT&T-DIRECTV’s incentive to deploy FTTP service, the Commission adopts as a condition of this merger the expansion of FTTP service to 12.5 million customer locations. This condition also responds to the harm of the loss of a video competitor in areas where AT&T and DIRECTV had directly competed before the merger by providing a pathway for increased competition from services that rely on broadband Internet to deliver video.
* Gigabit Service to E-rate Eligible Schools and Libraries. In addition, to ensure that schools and libraries also benefit from expanded fiber deployment to consumers and institutions, the Commission is also requiring AT&T-DIRECTV to offer gigabit service to any E-rate eligible school or library where AT&T-DIRECTV deploys FTTP service.
* Non-Discriminatory Usage-Based Practices. Recognizing that AT&T is the only major ISP that applies “data caps” across the board to all of its fixed broadband customers and that this merger increases the incentive of AT&T-DIRECTV to use strategies that limit consumers’ access to online video distribution services in order to favor its own video services, the Commission requires AT&T-DIRECTV, as a condition of this merger, to refrain from imposing discriminatory usage-based allowances or other discriminatory retail terms and conditions on its broadband Internet service.
* Internet Interconnection Disclosure Requirements. Recognizing the importance of interconnection to the operation of online video services, the Commission also requires as a condition of this merger that AT&T-DIRECTV submit its Internet interconnection agreements so that the Commission may monitor the terms of such agreements to determine whether AT&T-DIRECTV is denying or impeding access to its networks in anticompetitive ways through the terms of these agreements.
* Discounted Broadband Services for Low-Income Subscribers. While finding that the availability of better and lower priced bundles of video and broadband service is a potential benefit of the merger, the Commission also concludes that the public interest requires us to ensure that a bundle of video and broadband services is not the only competitive choice for low-income subscribers who may not be able to afford bundled services. The Commission accordingly requires as a condition of the merger that AT&T-DIRECTV make available an affordable, low-price standalone broadband service to low-income consumers in its broadband service area.
* Compliance Program and Reporting. Given the important role that these conditions serve in securing the public interest benefits of the merger, the Commission requires that AT&T-DIRECTV retain both an internal company compliance officer and an independent, external compliance officer that will report and monitor, respectively, the combined entity’s compliance with all conditions of the merger.