AT&T has just announced its agreement with Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc. (ATNI) to acquire the company’s Alltel retail operations for $780 million in cash. For its end of the deal, AT&T will be picking up spectrum, licenses, retail locations, and most importantly 585,000 new souls. Um… Subscribers.
Essentially, the carrier is purchasing the remaining Alltel assets that the US government ordered rival Verizon to divest in 2008. After Verizon’s own buyout of Alltel, federal regulators demanded it divest subscribers in 105 markets where it was feared Big Red could become too dominant. AT&T had already secured 79 of those markets while ATNI made away with 26. But assuming today’s acquisition gains approval, AT&T will own all of it.
AT&T gains spectrum in the 700 MHz, 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands. Alltel’s network is CDMA-based however, meaning customers will need to be “upgraded” (AT&T’s term, not ours), to GSM, HSPA, and AT&T-compatible LTE.
The deal is subject to the usual FCC and Justice Department reviews, but if they decide the Death Star won’t get too much larger, the deal should close by the second half of 2013.