Report: AT&T may agree to follow new net neutrality rules to close DirecTV purchase

According to a new report, AT&T (NYSE: T) is prepared to reverse its publicly stated course and abide by new net neutrality rules in order to obtain federal approval of its $49 billion purchase of DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV).

So reports the Washington Post, quoting unnamed individuals close to the regulatory review of the merger, which could close as soon as the middle of June.

According to the report, AT&T is near an agreement to honor the FCC's ban on ISPs intentionally slowing or blocking websites. AT&T might also agree to comply with a ban on paid prioritization, or letting platform operators pay AT&T to get faster throughput through its network.

AT&T did not immediately reply to inquiries on the topic.

AT&T has previously stated that it will abide by the earlier version of the FCC's net neutrality rules--but not the new iteration framed around Title II of the Communications Act. 

AT&T is currently among a group of companies and industry representative bodies suing the FCC to stop implementation of the new Internet regulations. According to the Post report, even if that legal action were to succeed, AT&T's agreement with the FCC would require AT&T to follow the FCC's new net neutrality rules for an unspecified number of years. 

Although AT&T may have reached an agreement with the FCC on net neutrality, regulators and AT&T still have to hammer out accords on several other issues. For example, Cogent Communications and Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), among others, have asked the FCC to ensure that AT&T will continue to offer an affordable, standalone ISP product, one not bundled with things like pay-TV service. 

These companies want AT&T to offer a 25 Mbps plan in all its markets for $29.95 a month, for at least seven years. AT&T has countered with a proposal to offer 6 Mpbs service for $34.95 a month for three years. 

Critics of AT&T's proposed DirecTV purchase have also asked the FCC to stop AT&T from entering into interconnection agreements with SVOD services and other streaming video providers. 

For more:
- read this Washington Post story

Related links:
AT&T, DirecTV push back against merger conditions, as FCC shot clock remains stopped
AT&T-DirecTV deal nears closure, still A-OK with regulators
Appeals court clears way for AT&T-DirecTV review, throws out FCC order on program contracts

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