Verizon’s proposed sale of wireline facilities in three states to Frontier Communications was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in a order issued wednesday.
Verizon had already obtained approval from the Department of Justice. Now, the company only needs the green light from regulatory authorities in California, Florida and Texas, the states where it sells copper and fiber networks to Frontier.
“With these approvals in hand, we look forward to receiving the remaining regulatory approvals quickly over the next few months,” Verizon said. Frontier said it plans to close the deal in the first quarter of 2016.
The FCC said the sale is “unlikely to result in any potential harm to the public interest outweighing any potential benefit in the public interest.”
Verizon and Frontier announced the proposed $ 10.54 billion sale in February, saying Frontier would take over networks serving 3.7 million voice connections and 2.2 million Internet customers. This included 1.6 million FiOS fiber internet customers.
FiOS is available in approximately 54% of the territory of the three states that Frontier takes over. Frontier has not said if it will build more fiber in future areas of Verizon.
As Verizon’s wireless network operates nationwide, the company is scaling back its wireline operations to focus on the northeastern United States.
The Communications Workers of America union told the FCC they feared Frontier did not have enough money to expand fiber and maintain copper networks. The FCC, which has reviewed Frontier’s financial records, said it was “not convinced that the transaction is unduly risky or will result in specific harm to the public interest. We also agree with Frontier that it is not. did not enter into this transaction with a deterrent to investing in its network and broadband infrastructure, which would impact its ability to compete with cable and wireless providers. ”
Additionally, the FCC said it believes that “Frontier is more likely to improve quality of service and invest in infrastructure improvements, including for voice services, than Verizon would not be. absence of the transaction “. While many Verizon DSL customers are stuck on sub-broadband speeds, Frontier has committed to deliver download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 2 Mbps to 3 Mbps to an additional 750,000 households by 2020, said the FCC. This includes all of Frontier’s territory including, but not limited to California, Florida, and Texas.
Verizon’s fiber-to-the-home FiOS service already offers much higher speeds than that, but Verizon had no specific plans to expand FiOS or improve service and broadband speeds in the tri-state “au- beyond meeting any pre-existing obligations, the FCC said.
Frontier also bought AT&T’s wireline operations in Connecticut last year, but that marred the change, leaving 3,000 customers temporarily without service.