Continuing their spectrum acquisition spree, AT&T has announced that they'll be buying Alltel's customers and spectrum for $780 million. According to AT&T, the deal will involve all of Alltel's retail stores, 585,000 Alltel customers, and spectrum in the 700MHz, 900MHz and 1900MHz bands.
What we currently know as Alltel is really only the remnants of what was left of the old Alltel, after Verizon acquired the majority of the company back in 2009
. Alltel's current network covers roughly 4.6 million subscribers in primarily rural markets in Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and Georgia. What exists currently as Alltel
AT&T insists the spectrum will be "largely complimentary" to existing holdings, and expects the deal to close in the second half of this year.
The announcement comes after AT&T has made more than 40 different spectrum deals over the past year, including spending $1.9 billion to obtain Qualcom spectrum
, another $600 million to gobble up Nextwave
as part of a WCS spectrum effort, while pursuing 51 Lower 700 MHz Band B Block licenses, four Lower 700 MHz Band C Block licenses and six AWS licenses all owned by CenturyLink's CenturyTel Broadband Wireless subsidiary.
These deals arrived after AT&T previously insisted that their only survival lie in acquiring and eliminating T-Mobile from the market, the company stating that without that deal they'd face a unavoidable spectrum crisis
. These multiple smaller deals were not only possible, they were substantially cheaper than the original $39 billion proposed T-Mobile deal price tag.
Granted nobody but AT&T really knows how much spectrum AT&T really needs, and competitors and consumer advocates alike continue to worry that AT&T is simply using their deep pockets to acquire additional spectrum to prevent new competitors from entering the market.