has made an agreement with Atlantic Tele-Network Incorporated to acquire its rural wireless business. The purchase of Alltel
will cost AT&T $780 million, but it will net the carrier a number of wireless properties, retail locations, network equipment, an extra 585,000 existing subscribers, and also wireless licenses.
The purchase effectively consists of assets owned by Alltel that were not included in Verizon's acquisition
at the start of 2009, due to a requirement by federal regulators for Verizon to divest itself
of 105 of these new markets. Of these, AT&T took hold of 79, while ANTI took 26 of them. The acquisition will see AT&T control the Alltel network in Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The spectrum licenses, covering bands in the 700MHz, 850MHz, and 1900MHz ranges are "largely complimentary to AT&T's existing network," according to a company statement
, and it expects that the conversion from the CDMA-only network to GSM, HSPA and LTE will not hurt cash flow significantly.
The deal is subject to review by the FCC and the Department of Justice, and is expected to close in the latter half of 2013.