AT&T announced this morning that it has reached an agreement with Atlantic Tele-Network to acquire its US retail wireless operations, operated under the Alltel brand, for $780 million. As part of the deal, AT&T will pick up wireless spectrum, licenses, network assets, retail stores and approximately 585,000 subscribers…
“AT&T* today announced that it has signed an agreement with Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc. (ATNI) to acquire the company’s U.S. retail wireless operations, operated under the Alltel brand, for $780 million in cash. Under terms of the agreement, AT&T will acquire wireless properties, including licenses, network assets, retail stores and approximately 585,000 subscribers.”
TNI operates under the Alltel name in the U.S., and its network covers approximately 4.6 million people in primarily rural areas across six states — Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina. And the included spectrum, which is in the 700 MHz, 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands, is also very expansive.
The network is of the CDMA variety, but AT&T claims that integration and network conversion costs to its own GSM network will not result in significant dilution to EPS or impact its cash flow. It also believes that as it upgrades its network, both ATNI and existing AT&T customers will enjoy an enhanced mobile experience.
Of course, the transaction is still subject to a review by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice and to other customary closing conditions, and we all know how well that’s worked out for AT&T in the past. Nevertheless, if everything goes smoothly, the carrier expects the deal to close in late 2013.
So basically, AT&T just paid $800 million for more wireless spectrum, some retail buildings, and half a million new customers. Worth it?