West Virginia Approves Verizon/Frontier deal – Only the FCC remains….

This could work out good for everybody involved … as long as the FCC cooperates.

As had been expected, West Virginia regulators have approved Verizon’s $8.5 billion sale of more than 6 million phone and DSL customers across fourteen states to Frontier Communications. West Virginia was the last state needed for approval — but approval had been hard earned due to Verizon’s neglect of infrastructure (and unions) in the state. The state Public Service Commission in West Virginia believes the sale’s benefits outweigh “the negatives or potential risk.”

Conditions attached to the deal aren’t particularly tough, requiring that Frontier waive early termination fees for 90 days after the deal closes, and cap current Verizon rates for a year. In a statement, Verizon said they were “pleased” by the deal:

“We’re pleased the commission has approved the transaction. The record developed in this case provides comprehensive evidence and assurances that the transaction with Frontier Communications is in the public interest and will provide many benefits to West Virginia residents, including increased investment and broadband availability in the state, while protecting jobs and promoting employment.”

Of course West Virginia residents will get to see if that’s true, or, if many consumer advocates and unions feared, Frontier struggles with the debt load of this deal like former Verizon partners Fairpoint and Hawaiian Telcom. All that’s left now is the regulatory approval of the FCC.

Update:Telecompetitor directs our attention to some possible FCC merger conditions already in the works:

In an effort to quicken the FCC s approval pace, Frontier is making additional promises. According to Stifel Nicolaus, Frontier committed to a broadband deployment schedule that would bring 4 Mbps (download) service to at least 85% of the households by 2015 in the Verizon territories it s acquiring, among other broadband commitments. Frontier also committed to various steps to assure the FCC and wholesale customers (e.g., CLECs) that there will be no drop-off in operations support system performance in these Verizon areas after the sale.”

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