The FCC approved AT&T's $944 million acquisition of Centennial Communications, clearing the way for the deal to close and giving the nation's No. 2 wireless carrier around 893,000 new customers.
The commission voted 5-0 to approve the deal, but placed several conditions on it. The FCC, like the Justice Department, is requiring AT&T to divest some of Centennial's assets in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. AT&T will gain subscribers in primarily rural areas of Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio and Texas, and will enhance its coverage in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The FCC is proposing that AT&T divest from seven markets, while the Justice Department is requiring eight market divestitures. Five of the eight service areas AT&T is required to divest are heading to Verizon Wireless. The carriers announced in May a divested asset swap--AT&T got assets Verizon was required to divest as part of Verizon's acquisition of Alltel.
Additionally, the FCC said AT&T would have to honor roaming agreements Centennial made with other wireless carriers, and continue to maintain Centennial's CDMA network in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for 18 months, which is something Sprint Nextel was concerned about. AT&T also is required to limit its contact with America Movil, which is a competitor to AT&T and Centennial in Puerto Rico.
AT&T said that by late January, its products and services will be available at more than 100 Centennial retail locations. Former Centennial wireless customers can keep their existing rate plans, but they also will have the option to choose AT&T rate plans without activation or upgrade fees. In Puerto Rico, the Centennial brand will continue through mid-2010, and AT&T expects its products and services to be available in Centennial locations in Puerto Rico in the third quarter of 2010.
Report: FCC staff recommend approval of AT&T-Centennial deal
Justice Department signs off on AT&T-Centennial deal
Sprint voices roaming concerns in AT&T-Centennial deal
AT&T: Further delay in Centennial deal would be a 'burden'
AT&T: Centennial deal to close in Q4