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FCC approves CenturyLink, Qwest merger with conditions

The FCC approved the merger March 18 of CenturyLink and Qwest Communications International.

As a condition of the approval, the FCC imposed protections against the risk of harm to competition and ensured the merged entity will live up to its commitments to expand its network and launch a major broadband adoption program for low-income consumers, an FCC statement said.

Based on the companies’ agreement to certain conditions, the FCC found that the potential public interest benefits of the merger are likely to outweigh the potential harms.

Among the conditions for approval were steps to improve broadband adoption for low-income households. Specifically, the conditions include requiring the launch of a major broadband adoption program focused on connecting the millions of low-income consumers in the combined company’s 37-state territory.

The company also must offer qualifying households broadband starting at less than $10 per month and a computer for less than $150 and keep the window open for five years for qualifying consumers to sign up. And, the company must make a significant annual commitment to marketing, outreach and digital literacy training and include detailed reporting on outcomes and an independent analysis of the program’s effectiveness.