AT&T (NYSE:T, news, filings) made another spectrum grab today, this time with the acquisition of the spectrum plus 585,000 customers of Atlantic Tele-Network for $780M. In doing so, they finally made good on speculation a few years back that it was eyeing the pieces of Alltel that Verizon was forced to divest back in 2009/2010 by the FCC.
The spectrum included in the deal is in the 700MHz, 850MHz, and 1900MHz bands across rural swaths of Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina, and is currently being used for a retail CDMA network. AT&T will have to convert those to its GSM base, but says it doesn’t expect the process to materially affect EPS or cash flow.
It’s one more step in a AT&T’s quest to make up for lost ground after the collapse of its deal for T-Mobile USA just over a year ago, adding spectrum wherever they can in piecemeal fashion. Today’s deal will also face the usual regulatory scrutiny, but seems unlikely to cause a battle of that sort. The FCC and DOJ have their hands full with the whole Softbank/Sprint thing for now, and if that goes through then the duopoly fears of a year ago will be less acute already.
Elsewhere in the world yesterday, AT&T had a busy day. They did a network deal with China Telecom to boost its capabilities on the Chinese Mainland, endured a U-Verse outage, and agreed to help Emerald Networks land its proposed transatlantic cable out on Long Island.