The Justice Department announced restrictions to a number of sales agreements between Verizon and four other large cable companies, marking another major move by the department’s Antitrust Division following its successful challenge to an AT&T-T-Mobile merger in December.
The proposed Verizon deal, worth more than $3.5 billion total, caught the ire of several consumer rights groups, in addition to a few lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The department ultimately approved the wide-ranging deal, but added some restrictions it says are necessary to maintain competitiveness among the heavy-hitters in the telecommunications industry.
The deal between Verizon and Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications centered on the sale of bundled wireless and wireline services.
“The Antitrust Division’s enforcement action ensures that robust competition between Verizon and the cable companies continues now and in the future as technological change alters the telecommunications landscape,” Joe Wayland, acting Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, said in a statement.
The settlement forbids Verizon from selling cable products in areas that its cable component, FiOs, already exists. The department is also requiring that Verizon monitor its reselling of the other cable companies’ services to customers where Verizon already sells internet services until 2016, among other restrictions.
The deal between Verizon and Cox Communications is worth $315 million, while a similar deal between Verizon and the other three cable companies is worth $3.6 billion.
In December, the Antitrust Division won a big battle with AT&T, which was seeking to buy wireless provider T-Mobile USA for $39 billion. It’s unexpected challenge to the deal paid off for the division, with analysts calling it one of the gutsiest antitrust moves by the department during the Obama administration.