Washington

Franken on AT&T/DirecTV: Stand-Alone Broadband a Must

Asks FCC/DOJ for close scrutiny of proposed deal 7/10/2014 09:30:00 AM Eastern

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) says he is concerned that a combined AT&T/DirecTV could become a mobile Internet "gatekeeper" and wants government vetters of the deal—the FCC and DOJ—to hold the companies to a "thoroughly articulated" commitment to offer stand-alone broadband.

He says that without that stand-alone commitment, AT&T could force customers into bundled service they may not want, raising prices while at the same time limiting choices.

That came in a letter to both agencies asking for careful scrutiny of the proposed merger.

Franken also wants the agencies to hold AT&T to its pledge to abide by both the spirit and the letter of the FCC's 2010 Open Internet rules and to "thoroughly consider" the deal's impact on network neutrality.

He also has concerns about those rules limited application to wireless. "The Order has very limited application to the market that AT&T dominates: mobile broadband," he said. "Therefore, it is unclear whether AT&T’s proposed condition would be a significant benefit for consumers. As such, AT&T must make a more substantial commitment to net neutrality, particularly in the mobile space."

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