Dallas-based AT&T is at the center of multibillion dollar deal Sunday where the communications giant agreed to buy DirecTV in a deal worth $48.5 billion.
The acquisition was approved by both boards at AT&T and DirecTV. It's a deal AT&T said will benefit the consumer, but many people fear the acquisition means less competition and higher prices
"I’m quite concerned because the less competition for me means prices are going to be higher,” said Selwyn Hunt, who is a DirectTV customer. “And that concerns me and my family.”
Hunt pays about $175 a month for TV and Internet service from DirecTV. He fears his bills will go up if AT&T acquires DirectTV.
“I’m happy with DirecTV, but I find them to be expensive,” said Hunt.
“I think it’s going to make one person [company] be able to drive prices up,” said David Willis, who is a former DirecTV customer, but currently uses an antenna to watch TV. “That's not going to be fair overall for the consumer.”
Currently, AT&T has about 5.7 million U-Verse customers in the U.S., while DirecTV has 20 million satellite customers; DirecTV has another 18 million customers in Latin America. The deal will increase the amount of video subscribers AT&T has by five times, reaching customers around the country.
A spokesperson for AT&T said the deal will be able to make the company more competitive with Comcast and Time Warner. And they said they will offer better package deals to customers for video, broadband and mobile.
The acquisition still needs to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice, but AT&T expects that to be done within a year.
Still, the cost of services is a big concern for many customers if the acquisition is closed.
“Hopefully it’s going to be a good thing because AT&T’s prices have been insane lately,” said Mike Mousel, who spends more than $300 a month for U-Verse, mobile and Internet services from AT&T.
A spokesperson for AT&T said they will honor the current rate for broadband and DirecTV customers for three years after the deal. But after that, prices could change.
AT&T has about 16,500 employees based out of Dallas. A spokesperson said it is too early to project what the acquisition means for job losses or gains in the company.
If the deal is approved, AT&T would become the country's second largest pay TV operator. Right behind Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which agreed to merge in February 2014. Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which includes NBC 5 and NBCDFW.com.