6. Verizon And CenturyLink Complete Blockbuster Acquisitions, AT&T Blocked From Buying Time Warner
The major telecommunications carriers were active on the acquisition front in 2017, looking to boost their product portfolios with new content and service capabilities. Two of the acquisitions were successfully completed while one hit a very serious roadblock.
In June Verizon finally closed its long-gestating acquisition of Web portal company Yahoo and its popular media assets, including its sports and finance content. Closing that deal came with some drama, however, after Yahoo disclosed that it had been hit with massive security breaches in 2013 and 2014 that compromised more than 1.5 billion subscriber accounts. Verizon ultimately negotiated a new $4.48 billion purchase price – a $350 million discount from the price the two companies initially agreed on.
In another critical acquisition, Verizon out-bid rival AT&T with a $3.1 billion, all-stock offer to acquire wireless spectrum holder Straight Path Communications.
CenturyLink, meanwhile, closed its long-in-the-works acquisition of Level 3, completing the $34-billion deal on Nov. 1. Combined the two companies form the second largest domestic communications provider serving global enterprise customers.
Things haven't gone as smoothly for AT&T and its year-long effort to buy Time Warner, the owner of CNN, HBO and other properties, for $85.4 billion. In November the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would sue AT&T in a bid to halt the acquisition, saying it would be anticompetitive and "result in fewer innovative offerings and higher bills" for consumers.
And the telecommunications industry spent much of 2017 debating the fate of Obama-era "net neutrality" rules governing how Internet service providers handle web traffic. Republican appointees to the Federal Communications Commission proposed disbanding the rules and, while the plan met with intense opposition, FCC commissioners voted on December 14 to dismantle the regulations, allowing Internet service providers to speed up service for some websites and applications, and block or slow down others.