It’s Official! Liberty Latin America Buys AT&T Wireless In The USVI And Puerto Rico
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The U.S. Department of Justice has approved Liberty Latin America’s friendly takeover of AT&T Wireless in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Customers of AT&T Wireless in each territory started getting messages like this on their mobile phones yesterday:
“We are writing to inform you of upcoming changes within our company with regards to our customers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” AT&T Wireless said.
“On October 9, 2019, AT&T announced its plans to sell its wireless and wireline operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to Liberty. As a result of this transaction, AT&T wireless service in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will become part of Liberty. This means that your wireless service and other agreements will be with Liberty and not with AT&T Mobility, LLC, or any of its affiliates as of the Close, expected October 31, 2020.”
Changes that will go into effect at close include:
• The AT&T subsidiary that holds your Prepaid agreement(s) will be acquired by Liberty. • AT&T THANKS will not be available in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. • Questions regarding service, including rate plans, terms, policies, Prepaid agreements and fees, will be handled by the local, now AT&T branded stores, which will eventually be rebranded Liberty stores, or by calling 1-800-331-0500. Accounts will no longer be serviced in AT&T stores outside of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. • Additionally, for Mobile Insurance, Protect Advantage for 1, and Protect Advantage for 4 device protection plans, the following changes will be effective on October 31, 2020:
• The defined term “Service Provider”, as contained in the Insurance Coverage Certificate, Section IX – Definitions is amended by deleting “AT&T” and replacing it with “Liberty”.
• The AT&T Protech Support Terms of Service agreement is amended to reflect that the agreement is now between (1) Asurion Protection Services, LLC, acting on behalf of its licensed affiliates and doing business as Asurion and (2) the person or entity that is the customer of record for Liberty wireless service and purchases or uses the Asurion ProTech support service as defined in the terms. Please visit phoneclaim.com/att/program-terms to review the new Asurion Protech Support Terms of Service.
• IDnotify™ services will be discontinued effective December 1, 2020 for all AT&T Protect Advantage Customers. For those enrolled in a device protection plan, you will continue to enjoy coverage for loss, theft, damage, and out-of-warranty malfunctions. Coverage is optional and you may cancel at any time. Payment of the monthly charge for your first billing cycle on or after October 31, 2020, will serve as confirmation that you accept the changes and wish to continue your enrollment. If you have questions or to cancel your coverage, please call Asurion Customer Care at 888.562.8662.
To ensure a smooth transition for our customers, AT&T will provide transition support functions to Liberty. In connection with the transition of your services from AT&T to Liberty, you may continue to receive messages that reference AT&T. Please note: These messages are legitimate, sent by AT&T on behalf of Liberty, and will relate to the services that Liberty will be providing.
We are confident that Liberty will continue providing high-quality communications services to the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and that it is equally committed to supporting these communities.
Liberty Latin America entered into a consent judgment with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that will allow it to complete its previously announced acquisition of AT&T’s wireless and wireline operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As part of the judgment, Liberty Latin America agreed to divest certain business-to-business (B2B) operations in Puerto Rico. Liberty expects a preliminary court order in the next few days that will the company to close its transaction with AT&T.
The acquisition does not affect AT&T’s First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) commitments in the region. AT&T will retain First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) responsibilities and relationships, as well as its dedicated FirstNet network core and service capabilities. Following the close of the acquisition, Liberty will support AT&T’s FirstNet build in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Liberty said it has already entered into an agreement to divest part of its B2B operations in Puerto Rico. The divestiture is expected to close promptly, pending appropriate regulatory approval. The approval process for that divestiture is not expected to affect the closing date for Liberty’s acquisition of the AT&T assets.
On Oct. 23, the DOJ filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to block the proposed acquisition. The department also filed a proposed settlement that, if approved by the court, would resolve the competitive harm alleged in the department’s complaint.
“The merger, as originally structured, would have eliminated competition for critical fiber-optic-based telecommunications services that businesses in Puerto Rico rely on every day,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the DOJ’s antitrust division. “Today’s settlement will ensure that businesses throughout Puerto Rico continue to benefit from vigorous competition in the provision of these services.”
The DOJ filed its complaint, noting that Liberty and AT&T are two of the three largest wireline telecommunications providers in Puerto Rico and own two of the three most extensive fiber-based network infrastructures on the island. The DOJ said that competition between Liberty and AT&T resulted in lower prices and higher quality services for Puerto Rico customers and argued that the combination of Liberty and AT&T would leave many customers with only one alternative and others with no competitive choice at all, likely resulting in increased prices and lower quality services for enterprise customers across Puerto Rico.
Under the settlement, Liberty and AT&T must divest certain wireless telecommunications assets and customer accounts in Puerto Rico to WorldNet Communications or an alternative purchaser approved by the U.S. WorldNet is a Puerto Rico corporation and is the largest locally owned telecommunications provider in Puerto Rico.
Liberty Latin said it and AT&T plan to close the transaction on Oct. 31. AT&T announced in October 2019 that it planned to sell its Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Island operations for $1.95 billion.