AT&T seals deal on Verizon's divested Alltel markets

It took a good, long while, but AT&T has finally closed on its acquisition of the markets Verizon was required to divest in order to get the government to agree to its purchase of Alltel early last year. For most customers, the move has no practical impact -- the markets are mostly rural -- but for affected folks, it means that they'll be able to "select a device comparable to their existing device at no additional cost" as markets get upgraded over the course of the next 12 months. Interestingly, all of the markets will be getting the 3G treatment, a sharp departure from AT&T's typical strategy of keeping unpopulated areas on EDGE -- but it probably makes sense to get them up and running on 3G since the network's got to be built up from scratch anyhow. Follow the break for the full press release.

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AT&T Completes Acquisition of Divestiture Properties from Verizon Wireless

Acquisition Enhances AT&T's Network Coverage and Connects Rural Americans to Leading-Edge Mobile Broadband Technologies

DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AT&T* today completed its acquisition of wireless assets from Verizon Wireless. The transaction enhances AT&T's wireless network coverage in primarily rural areas in 79 service areas across 18 states. To secure regulatory approvals for its purchase of Alltel in 2009, Verizon Wireless agreed to divest the properties.

"Mobile broadband is changing how we live our lives and transforming every sector of business, and AT&T is leading the way"

Once network transition work is completed, the approximately 1.6 million subscribers in these service areas will enjoy the benefits of AT&T's 3G mobile broadband network - the nation's fastest. AT&T expects to roll out its 3G service to all of the acquired properties.

"Mobile broadband is changing how we live our lives and transforming every sector of business, and AT&T is leading the way," said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "We're excited that with this acquisition, AT&T will bring the benefits of mobile broadband to new subscribers. We mobilize everything for our customers by delivering the best 3G experience, the fastest 3G speeds nationwide, the most popular smartphones, an array of emerging devices like eReaders and netbooks, the ability to talk and browse the Web at the same time and access to more than 225,000 apps."**

Integration Plans

The transaction extends AT&T's wireless network coverage in primarily rural areas of Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

Over a period of approximately 12 months, AT&T will launch service on a market-by-market basis as network integration work is completed. For now, there are no changes to customers' phone numbers, rate plans, network coverage, customer service contacts or processes for making monthly bill payments. During network integration, customers will have the opportunity to select a device comparable to their existing device at no additional cost. They may also choose an upgraded handset from AT&T's exciting lineup of industry-leading devices.*** Existing AT&T customer contracts are not affected.

The company will inform subscribers of changes in advance and is committed to making the transition as easy and convenient as possible while working to deliver a high level of service to affected customers. Rebranding to AT&T will also occur on a market-by-market basis as service is launched.

Subscribers joining AT&T will enjoy significant benefits. Today, AT&T offers voice and data coverage reaching 97 percent of Americans, the broadest international coverage of any U.S. wireless provider; more applications running over its network; and access to the nation's fastest 3G network. Unlike some other wireless networks, AT&T's 3G network enables subscribers to talk and e-mail or surf the Web at the same time. And thanks to the industry's leading lineup of devices, more smartphone users have chosen AT&T than any other wireless carrier. Subscribers who choose smartphones and LaptopConnect cards with a current DataConnect Plan will also have access to AT&T's entire nationwide Wi-Fi hot spot network at no additional charge.****

AT&T is also the leader in emerging consumer devices and a mobile broadband network of choice for most major consumer categories such as eReaders, netbooks, personal navigation devices and digital photo frames. Subscribers in the acquired service areas will have even more opportunities to take advantage of the connectivity delivered by this new class of mobile broadband devices.

Agreement Terms

Under terms of the agreement, AT&T is purchasing the assets for approximately $2.35 billion in cash. The transaction primarily represents former Alltel assets, but it also includes assets from Verizon Wireless and the former Rural Cellular Corporation.

The transaction adds customers and enhances network coverage and is expected to deliver substantial long-term stockholder value. Wireless is the largest growth driver and value creator in the telecommunications industry, and this acquisition continues AT&T's strong track record of investing in growth. In 2009 AT&T's capital investments totaled $17.3 billion, and AT&T plans to invest between $18 and 19 billion in 2010, assuming a favorable regulatory environment, including an increase of approximately $2 billion over 2009 levels in wireless network and supporting wireline backhaul investments.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

**Access to applications depends on device.

***Device upgrades require a two-year commitment, and all smartphones require a data plan.

****A Wi-Fi enabled device required. Other restrictions apply. See for additional services, details and locations.