ALBANY, Ga. — AT&T said Tuesday that it has reached a deal to buy the Alltel U.S. wireless operations for about $780 million to boost its spectrum in rural areas.
The Dallas telecommunications company is buying the licenses, retail stores and network assets, along with about 585,000 subscribers, from Atlantic Tele-Network Inc. The news sent the Beverly, Mass.-based company's shares up 9 percent to $42.74 in pre-market trading.
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Alltel's network covers about 4.6 million people in mainly rural areas across six states — Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina. It generated revenue of about $350 million for the first nine months of 2012.
Touting its service in rural areas, Alltel recently activated a new digital cell site in Mitchell County, which they say will improve voice and data speeds in the rural Southwest Georgia county. Located on Briarwood Road, the new site should improve service in the Lester community area and anyone east of Baconton and Putney.
"Alltel is committed to meeting the increased wireless needs of our customers in the Mitchell County area and throughout Georgia,” said Jack Luciani, vice president general manager for Alltel Wireless. “We are dedicated to providing a superior customer experience and this effort to improve our network demonstrates our focus on the customer.”
AT&T said it expects that as it upgrades the network, mobile Internet service will improve for both Alltel customers and AT&T customers who roam in those areas.
The deal remains subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice. The companies said they expect the deal to close in the second half of the year.
AT&T said it doesn't expect integration costs related to the acquisition to significantly affect its earnings or cash flow.
AT&T Inc. shares were unchanged before the opening bell.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.