Trying to catch up with the top U.S. wireless carrier – Verizon Wireless – AT&T has been grabbing airwaves to boost its wireless holdings across the country. To this end, Dallas-based AT&T has reached a deal to acquire $780 million worth of wireless operations from Atlantic Tele Network Inc. (ATNI), the operator of Alltel wireless network. The mega deal covers 585,000 subscribers, along with retail outlets, network assets and licenses.
ATNI’s Alltel wireless network covers six states in the South and Midwest, with about 4.6 million customers. The network was once operational in 34 U.S. states before it was purchased by Verizon Wireless in 2009. However, regulating agencies forced Verizon to divest some of its network, and AT&T purchased $2.5 billion worth of the network assets, on the dot. Now, AT&T is about to purchase the rest of the Alltel wireless network.
Last August, the company procured WCS and AWS-1 spectrum across 608 cellular markets covering 82 percent of the population.
AT&T needs to upgrade the network from the CDMA technology to its GSM technology. It means that cell towers will need conversion and customers will need new phones. But, AT&T says that the requirement may not affect the cash flow or cause major dilutions to EPS.
AT&T’s new deal adds to its 24 spectrum deals in 2012. With big spectrum purchases, the company is geared up to expand its 4G LTE network. AT&T has criticized regulatory hurdles for delaying its deals. And, it expects its new deal, which is subject to approval by federal agencies, to close in the latter half of 2013.
Wireless carriers depend on spectrum for transmission of data and phone calls to mobile devices. The increasing demand for spectrum has increased the value of businesses that possess an assortment of airwaves. Spectrum demand is likely to keep growing as data traffic is doubling each year.