In a Nov. 16 memorandum opinion and order, the FCC said approval of the transaction “will serve the public interest, convenience and necessity." The approval comes 170 days into the commission’s 180-day review of the deal.
“We have carefully evaluated the proposed transaction, in light of the extensive documentary record, the related pleadings from commenters and the applicants, and other submissions in this proceeding," it said. “After a thorough review of this record, we conclude that the applicants are fully qualified to transfer the licenses ... and that the public interest benefits promised by the proposed transaction are sufficient to support the grant of the applications."
Will Johnson, Verizon’s senior vice president, federal regulatory affairs, said the telco is “pleased that the FCC has approved Verizon’s purchase of XO’s wireline business."
“We look forward to quickly putting XO’s fiber to work to better … serve our customers and to aid our deployment of 5G," he said.
Approvals still are pending in Pennsylvania, where the deal is being considered by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, and New York state, where is it being reviewed by the New York Public Service Commission.
EarthLink came forward in opposition to the deal, saying it would “harm competition and consumer welfare in several important respects."
Announced in February, the deal would provide Verizon with access to XO’s fiber-based IP and Ethernet networks, “helping to better serve enterprise and wholesale customers," according to XO. In addition, the acquired fiber facilities will help Verizon continue to densify its cell network.
Separately, Verizon also will lease available XO wireless spectrum, with an option to buy that spectrum by the end of 2018.
In May, Bill Hooper, XO’s vice president of partner channel, said the Verizon wireline workers’ strike, which lasted seven weeks, delayed the acquisition. Then in July, the FCC paused its review of the deal, saying neither Verizon nor XO had completed their production of responsive material. The review resumed on Aug. 24.