AT&T buys Alltel for $780 million
AT&T plans to use the Alltel assets and spectrum to beef up its 4G LTE network
AT&T said it will be buying Alltel and its 585,000 subscribers for $780 million in cash.
While the new subscribers are nice, AT&T is primarily trying to buy the regional carrier for its spectrum and other network assets. Alltel's network currently covers more than four million people in states like Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina.
AT&T is pretty hungry for spectrum and Alltel has spectrum in the 700MHz, 850MHz and 1900MHz bands, which should compliment AT&T's existing assets. Alltel is currently a CDMA carrier and while AT&T is a GSM carrier, AT&T said that the transition shouldn't be much of an issue. I tend to agree with that, as AT&T can essentially just shut Alltel down, switch its users over if it wants to and repurpose that spectrum.
The move is just the latest in the battle for spectrum, which is the lifeblood of the mobile-centric world. AT&T tried to secure its spectrum position by buying T-Mobile for $36 billion a few years ago, but that was nixed by the government over concerns about consumer choice.
It's not just AT&T that is trying to secure spectrum, as Verizon bought spectrum from a group of cable companies and T-Mobile is going to merge with MetroPCS. Sprint tried to fully purchase Clearwire for its spectrum assets, but it is facing a snag now that Dish is also trying to buy Clearwire.