Alltel acquisition rumors heat up

Despite the fact that its fellow carriers play the fool in those sometimes-clever My Circle commercials, Alltel is in talks with at least three of its rivals to see if any are interested in picking up "the nation's largest wireless network," according to the Wall Street Journal. Alltel, with its 12 million subscribers and $22 billion market valuation, claims just one-fifth the amount of subs that either AT&T or Verizon do, but has made it niche serving customers in areas with poor coverage by the majors -- making it an attractive target for anyone looking to quickly expand their network. Since Alltel rocks the CDMA styles, it would obviously make more sense for Sprint or Verizon to take the plunge, and though Little Rock-based Alltel is also said to be chatting it up with the carrier formerly known as Cingular, the recent BellSouth deal could make such purchase a financial and regulatory burden for the new AT&T. Now bear in mind that this is not the first time we've heard such acquisition chatter -- Engadget Mobile reported that Verizon was the front runner as of a few weeks ago (a deal would help it snatch the "largest carrier" crown away from AT&T) -- so either things are heating up or its another slow news day down at the ol' Journal.