It was Verizon’s purchase of Alltel that finally put it over the top, making them the largest wireless carrier in the entire United States by adding 12.9 million new customers. As part of that purchase, Verizon was forced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to divest about 2.1 million of those customers due to overlapping properties, which basically means it would have been a monopoly without the sale. Of those 2.1 million customers, AT&T plans to purchase 1.5 million to beef up their rural coverage.
AppleInsider is reporting that the deal is for $2.35 billion, and will allow AT&T to take control of 18 of the 24 markets that Verizon is divesting. The agreement would give AT&T wireless properties for those markets, which includes licenses, network assets, and of course the 1.5 million new customers in 79 primarily rural areas including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.
“Wireless continues to be AT&T’s greatest growth driver, and this transaction will complement our existing network coverage, particularly in rural areas,” said AT&T chief executive Ralph de la Vega. “The acquisition will add network assets, distribution channels and 850 MHz spectrum in a significant portion of the U.S., enabling even better coverage for AT&T’s subscribers in those areas.”
The conversion from Verizon’s CDMA network to AT&T’s GSM, along with the transitioning of operations, should take about 12 months and cost AT&T another $400 million.
Of course Verizon benefits most from the Alltel acquisition, but at least AT&T gets a sliver of the pie. Hopefully this helps out some of the rural AT&T subscribers who get poor to no reception at all.