Regional cell carrier Alltel has agreed to a deal where AT&T will buy its U.S. business in a US$780 million deal. The purchase will give AT&T new rural coverage areas in the southeastern part of the U.S., new customers, and additional radio spectrum.
Alltel's service areas include parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Illinois, and on the other side of the country, Idaho. Alltel CEO Michael Prior stated, "Alltel's customers will benefit from access to a nationwide 4G network, a larger device selection, additional retail locations and a broader range of product offerings."
Exactly how Alltel's customers will benefit remains to be seen since the network infrastructure is CDMA-based and isn't compatible with AT&T's GSM infrastructure. Presumably, AT&T will have to transition both hardware and customers to GSM.
AT&T hinted that the transition may not be overly difficult stating, ""The acquisition includes spectrum in the 700MHz, 850MHz, and 1900MHz bands and is largely complementary to AT&T's existing network."
Verizon previously purchased some of Alltel's assets, but as part of Federal requirements wasn't able to hold onto everything. AT&T and ANTI snapped up what was left, and now AT&T has the ANTI bits as well.
The purchase still must go through the regulatory review process and is expected to wrap up later this year.