US telecoms regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday granted final approval to AT&T Inc’s USD944 million purchase of Centennial Communications Corp, a mobile, fixed line and broadband operator with a presence in the US, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Reuters reports that permission was given on the condition that AT&T, the second largest US mobile operator by users, divests Centennial’s wireless operations in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi; AT&T has already agree to sell five out of eight stipulated service areas to Verizon Wireless. The FCC also required AT&T to continue Centennial’s existing network roaming agreements for four years under certain subscriber conditions; TeleGeography notes that Sprint Nextel has asked the FCC for assurance that it can continue to augment its Puerto Rican CDMA2000 coverage by roaming on Centennial’s network. The watchdog also accepted Puerto Rican wireless market leader AT&T’s commitments to maintain a CDMA2000 network on the island and the US Virgin Islands for 18 months, rather than immediately switching to its preferred GSM/W-CDMA platform, over which it already operates in the territory. Addressing anti-monopoly concerns and the need to limit the overlap of executive boards, AT&T also said it would maintain an arms-length relationship with America Movil (AM), which owns AT&T’s close rival in Puerto Rico, Claro, as well as MVNO Tracfone in the US. AT&T owns an 8.82% stake in AM. The US giant agreed to buy Centennial, with around 1.1 million wireless subscribers, in November 2008.
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