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FCC Set To Approve AT&T-DirecTV Merger

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has circulated an order to his fellow commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission to approve the $48.5 billion merger between AT&T and DirecTV.

In a statement, Wheeler said the move would bring more competition to the broadband marketplace and benefit consumers.

"If the conditions are approved by my colleagues, 12.5 million customer locations will have access to a competitive high-speed fiber connection," Wheeler said. "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."

Under the terms of the order, AT&T will not be allowed to place data caps on rivals offering video and other content, and it will be required to submit all completed interconnection agreements to the FCC.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department has signed off on the deal.

The two companies announced the merger in May 2014. As NPR's Jim Zarroli reported at the time:

"The merger will unite one of the nation's most powerful telecommunications companies with one of its leading pay-TV services. Together, the two companies will have 26 million pay-TV customers. And the deal will allow AT&T to offer a much more varied menu of services to potential customers."

The deal would also, in the words of The Journal, lift "the shadow of AT&T's bungled attempt to buy T-Mobile US Inc. in 2011 that was blocked by the Justice Department, a misstep that cost the company more than $4 billion in break-up fees and other penalties."

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