Telecommunications: DOJ Allows AT&T to Sell Off Caribbean Operations

The Department of Justice is requiring Liberty Latin America Ltd., its subsidiary, Liberty Communications of Puerto Rico LLC, and AT&T Inc. to divest certain fiber-based telecommunications assets and customer accounts in Puerto Rico, in order for Liberty to proceed with its acquisition of AT&T’s wireline and wireless telecommunications operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The department has approved WorldNet Telecommunications, Inc. as the acquirer.

“The merger, as originally structured, would have eliminated competition for critical fiber-optic-based telecommunications services that businesses in Puerto Rico rely on every day,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. The settlement will ensure vigorous competition, he said.

According to the government’s complaint opposing the merger, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Liberty and AT&T are two of the three largest wireline telecommunications providers in Puerto Rico and own two of the three most extensive fiber-based network infrastructures on the island. Liberty and AT&T each use their network infrastructures to provide fiber-based connectivity and telecommunications services to enterprise customers. The DOJ argued that competition between Liberty and AT&T has resulted in lower prices and higher-quality services. Combining Liberty and AT&T would have left many customers with only one alternative and others with none. Higher prices and lower-quality services would have resulted for enterprise customers across Puerto Rico, the government argued.

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