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AT&T just announced it is forking over $780 million in cash to gobble up wireless spectrum.

The carrier said it would specifically acquire Atlantic Tele-Network’s U.S. retail wireless operation that covers about 4.6 million folks in rural areas of Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. As part of the deal, AT&T will get wireless spectrum licenses, network assets, retail stores, and roughly 585,000 subscribers.

AT&T uses the 700MHz band for its 4G LTE network, as well as 850MHz and 1900MHz for its 2G and 3G networks. The new spectrum licenses would include all three bands, but regulators, such as the Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Department of Justice, still need to give the transaction a formal go-ahead.

AT&T noted the transaction should close “in the second half of 2013.” Check out the press release below for more details.

This article is cross-posted on 9to5Google.

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AT&T To Acquire Wireless Spectrum and Assets from Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc., Enhance Wireless Coverage in Rural Areas

DALLAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–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.

ATNI 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. The acquisition includes spectrum in the 700 MHz, 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands and is largely complementary to AT&T’s existing network. ATNI currently operates a retail CDMA network for its subscribers in these areas. AT&T expects that as it upgrades the network, ATNI customers and existing AT&T customers who roam in these areas will enjoy an enhanced mobile Internet experience.

AT&T expects integration costs for network conversion from CDMA will not result in significant dilution to EPS or impact to cash flow. The transaction is subject to review by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice and to other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second half of 2013.

*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.