AT&T (NYSE: T) plans to buy Alltel, which provides communications services in North Carolina, in a deal worth some $780 million.
The second-largest U.S. wireless carrier, agreed to buy spectrum and subscribers from Atlantic Tele-Network Inc., or Alltel as it is known, in a cash deal, bolstering the company’s network and bringing in 585,000 new customers.
Alltel’s network covers about 4.6 million people in mainly rural areas across six states – Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina.
The deal includes the purchase of licenses, network assets and retail stores, Dallas-based AT&T said today in a statement. The spectrum is in the 700-, 850- and 1900-megahertz bands, making it complementary to AT&T’s network, the company said.
AT&T, led by Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, has been snapping up airwaves in a bid to catch up with Verizon Wireless, the No. 1 U.S. carrier. Verizon won approval last year to buy airwave rights from Comcast Corp. and other cable customers for about $3.6 billion. Wireless carriers rely on spectrum to transmit phone calls and data to mobile devices.
AT&T expects the Alltel purchase to be completed in the second half of 2013, assuming it’s approved by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice.
AT&T says it doesn’t expect integration costs related to the acquisition to significantly affect its earnings or cash flow.
AT&T shares are down 25 cents to $33.19 in premarket trading Tuesday.