This morning AT&T announced that it has signed an agreement with Atlantic Tele-Network to acquire the company's Alltel holdings for $780 million. The acquisition lands AT&T 585,000 new paying customers, some spectrum space, licenses, and all the Alltel retail locations.
In 2008 Alltel was previously scooped up by AT&T rival Verizon which was ordered to divest subscribers in 105 markets where the US government feared Verizon may grow too large. AT&T had previously secured 79 of those markets with ATNI landing just 26. Today's approval lands AT&T the full 105 markets once owned by Verizon.
AT&T gains spectrum in the 700MHz, 850MHz and 1.9GHz ranges. The big issue lies in Alltel being a GSM carrier, meaning existing customers will have to be "transitioned" to new phones working on ATT's GSM, HSPA and LTE networks. Pending a review by the FCC and Justice Department, the deal should finalize sometime later this year.