AT&T, the nation’s second largest wireless operator, is moving ahead with plans to acquire satellite television operator DirecTV.
The value of the purchase is $48.5 billion.
With a customer base topping 35 million subscribers, DirecTV knows what it means to be No. 2, as well. The company remains the second-largest pay TV provider in the U.S.
So what’s behind the biggest proposed merger we’ve seen in quite some time (at least since Comcast and Time Warner dished on their plans)? AT&T says the acquisition will help create “a unique new competitor with unprecedented capabilities in mobility, video and broadband services.”
About the only piece of the ecosystem AT&T-DirecTV doesn’t have covered is broadband, says Jeff Bercovici of Forbes.
“The would-be mergees say their union will accelerate AT&T’s rollout of high-speed broadband to 15 million new locations, most of them in rural areas where broadband penetration is scant,” Bercovici writes. “That still leaves the parties of that other big telecom merger, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, as the biggest providers of broadband by far. But the gain in size from swallowing DirecTV still leaves AT&T that much better equipped to grapple with Comcast-Time Warner, if and when regulators OK their marriage.”
The acquisition remains subject to regulatory approval, a process that will likely play out in a very public fashion in the coming months.