AT&T completes DirecTV acquisition

AT&T completed its acquisition of DirecTV yesterday, emerging as the country's biggest provider of TV subscriptions.

According to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson who hailed the deal, the addition of DirecTV makes AT&T a "fundamentally different company" that can offer people "more choices" for communication and entertainment.

AT&T was already one of the largest suppliers of wireless phone service in the US. Soon it would start promoting new ways to watch TV programming on mobile phones.

The company would also offer a bundled product that included TV, wireless phone service and wired broadband.

Stephenson's announcement came shortly after the five-member Federal Communications Commission voted in favour of the $49-billion transaction.

The are conditions however, some of which aimed at ensuring AT&T would not give its own video services a leg-up over competitors. The conditions also involved expansions of AT&T's super-fast broadband internet service and discounted for low-income households.

According to AT&T, its operations would be merged with DirecTV's "over the coming months."

Service would not suddenly change for customers -- NFL Sunday Ticket would remain available through DirecTV -- but according to AT&T, it would "launch new integrated TV, mobile and high-speed Internet offers that give customers greater value and convenience."

With the development, the newly expanded AT&T overtook the biggest US cable company Comcast Corp. The company said it would serve over 26 million US customers and over 19 million in Latin America, making it the world's biggest pay-TV company.

After over a year of review, the Federal Communications Commission finalised its vote to approve the deal with conditions, imposed for four years and enforced by an internal as also external compliance officers.

The requirements from the FCC, which ensured that deals were in the public interest, included protections for rival video and pledges for expansion of the high-speed internet services to schools, low-income Americans and other customers.

"The conditions imposed by the Commission address potential harms presented by the combination," the FCC said in a statement. "The conditions also ensure that the benefits of the merger will be realized."