- January 22, 2013 11:43am EST
AT&T has inked a deal to snap up $780 million worth of Alltel wireless holdings in largely rural areas in the U.S.
Specifically, AT&T bought the U.S. retail wireless operations of Atlantic Tele-Network Inc. (ATNI), which operates under the Alltel brand in several markets. That includes wireless properties, licenses, network assets, retail stores, and about 585,000 subscribers.
In total, ATNI has about 4.6 million customers across six states – Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. ATNI runs on a CDMA network, though, which will require some network conversion on AT&T’s part, but the company said it does not expect that to cause “significant dilution to EPS or impact to cash flow.”
AT&T will nab spectrum in the 700 MHz, 850 MHz, and 1900 MHz bands, and that’s likely the big draw as the carrier continues to build out its 4G LTE network. AT&T has already made some big spectrum purchases in the last year, including “numerous” WCS licenses via purchases of spectrum from Comcast, Horizon, SDG&E, and NextWave, which AT&T acquired in August. In total, AT&T recently acquired WCS and AWS-1 spectrum in 608 cellular markets across the country, which cover 82 percent of the population.
If the deal is approved by the FCC and Justice Department, AT&T expects it to close in the second half of 2013.
If this all sounds a little familiar, you’re not too far off. Back in 2009, AT&T purchased $2.35 billion worth of Alltel Wireless assets. That came after Verizon purchased Alltel, but was forced by regulators to divest certain markets so the deal wasn’t anti-competitive. AT&T promptly snapped up much of those divested markets – much to the chagrin of PCMag’s Sascha Segan – whereas ATNI picked up 26 markets. AT&T is now back to take some of those markets off ATNI’s hands.
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.
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