AT&T to buy Alltel for $780 million

The purchase covers 585,000 mobile customers in six states

The parent company of Alltel, a mobile telephone network serving rural customers in six states, has agreed to sell the business to AT&T for about US$780 million, Atlantic Tele-Network announced Tuesday.

The all-cash transaction will give Alltel customers access to a nationwide 4G mobile network, a larger selection of mobile devices and additional retail locations, Michael Prior, Atlantic Tele-Networks CEO said in a press release. Many of the company's employees will benefit from new career opportunities at the larger company, he added.

Atlantic Tele-Network's Alltel serves 585,000 mobile customers in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Ohio and Idaho, while AT&T has about 106 million mobile customers across the U.S. Alltel had about $350 million in revenue in the first nine months of 2012.

The transaction is subject to approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The companies expect the deal to be final in the second half of the year.

Atlantic Tele-Network will continue to operate telecom services in the Southwest U.S., New England, rural New York and other locations after selling Alltel. Atlantic Tele-Network will use some of the money for new acquisitions, a possible reduction in debt, and investments in its existing businesses, Prior said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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Tags business issuesU.S. Department of JusticeAtlantic Tele-Networktelecommunicationat&tU.S. Federal Communications CommissionMichael PriorMergers and acquisitions

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