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AT&T Sees Boost to Competition With Comcast Via DirecTV

AT&T Inc., operator of the TV-and-broadband business U-verse, told regulators that buying DirecTV would lead to a bundling of services that creates price competition with Comcast Corp. and other cable companies.

An AT&T-DirecTV combination would offer new or enhanced high-speed Internet service to at least 15 million customer locations if U.S. regulators approve the acquisition, AT&T said in a filing today with the Federal Communications Commission.

The agency will review the $48.5 billion deal announced May 18 that would give AT&T more than 38 million satellite-TV customers in the U.S. and in Latin America. AT&T is bulking up as Philadelphia-based Comcast and Time Warner Cable Inc., the two largest U.S. cable companies, await FCC and antitrust approval for their proposed combination, announced in February.

The purchase of El Segundo, California-based DirecTV would give AT&T, the second-biggest U.S. mobile-phone carrier, a national satellite-TV provider to combine with its existing packages of wireless, phone and high-speed Internet service. It would eliminate a choice where AT&T’s U-verse landline video service competes with DirecTV.

If both deals are approved as proposed, Dallas-based AT&T and Comcast would have about 55 percent of the pay-TV market, a prospect that may spur acquisitions among others looking for scale, according to Bloomberg Industries.

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