AT&T (NYSE: T) has been promising for some months that it is going to use wireless to expand its broadband footprint where applicable--including, especially, rural areas where it is not feasible to install wireline infrastructure. The carrier apparently took a step in that direction when it agreed to purchase the U.S. retail wireless operations of Atlantic Tele-Network (ATNI) which more colloquially operates under the brand name Alltel for about $780 million in cash.
In addition to gaining 585,000 subscribers, AT&T picked up spectrum in the 700 and 850 MHz and 1.9 GHz bands that cover 4.6 million people in the rural areas of Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina.
The bandwidth, the carrier said, is "largely complementary to AT&T's existing network."
It also expands AT&T's ability to cover more areas with more spectrum, thus paving the way for the carrier to deliver services such as its U-verse IPTV pay TV service.
"ATNI currently operates a retail CDMA network for its subscribers in these areas," AT&T said in a press release, adding, "as it upgrades the network, ATNI customers and existing AT&T customers who roam in these areas will enjoy and enhanced mobile Internet experience."
- AT&T issued this press release
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AT&T exec: 'We're going to expand U-verse'