AT&T announced today that it has signed a deal with Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc. (ATNI) to acquire the company’s Alltel US retail wireless operations for $780 million in cold, hard cash. The agreement includes the acquisition of Alltel’s wireless properties, such as licenses, network assets, retail stores, and almost 600,000 subscribers.
The news comes just two days before AT&T will be releasing its fourth-quarter results. The bulk of Alltel’s assets and subscribers were acquired initially by Verizon four years ago, and the company’s left-over assets and wireless subscribers will be picked up by AT&T. Of course, though, the merger must be approved by regulators before it becomes official.
ATNI operates under the Alltel name in the US, and its network covers around 4.6 million people in mostly-rural areas throughout six states: Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Ohio. The acquisition will include spectrum that will fit right in with AT&T’s existing network, but since Alltel runs on CDMA, customers will need to be upgraded to GSM once the merger is complete.
AT&T hopes that Alltel customers and existing AT&T customers who roam in these areas will get better coverage. Again, the acquisition must be reviewed and approved by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice, with an expected approval coming in the second half of this year some time.