WASHINGTON, July 24 (UPI) -- AT&T is required to expand high-speed Internet service to 12.5 million customers, including schools and libraries, as a condition of the Federal Communications Commission's approval of its merger with DirecTV.
The agency voted 4-1 to approve AT&T's acquisition of DirecTV and its 20.4 million customers, expanding the telecommunications giant's portfolio to include media.
But there were conditions to the FCC's approval.
Under the deal, AT&T must expand access to high-speed, fiber optic broadband Internet service to 12.5 million customer locations, including schools and libraries. The company is also prohibited from showing preference to its own or partner content on its networks, and must provide discounted Internet service to low-income customers.
The deal comes after months of negotiations.
Commissioner Michael O'Rielly issued a statement Thursday saying he voted after reviewing "the voluminous record in the proceeding.
"To be clear, this process shouldn't have taken this long, and we shouldn't have been so cavalier with the commission's merger review 'shot clock,' but at least we have arrived at this final stage."
AT&T said the acquisition will offer millions more people choices for entertainment.
"We'll now be able to meet consumers' future entertainment preferences, whether they want traditional TV service with premier programming, their favorite content on a mobile device, or video streamed over the Internet to any screen," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO.
"This transaction allows us to significantly expand our high-speed Internet service to reach millions more households, which is a perfect complement to our coast-to-coast TV and mobile coverage," Stephenson said. "We're now a fundamentally different company with a diversified set of capabilities and businesses that set us apart from the competition."