FCC Approves AT&T's Alltel Acquisition with Conditions
The Federal Communications Commission today approved AT&T's proposed acquisition of spectrum and assets from Atlantic Tele-Network's Alltel properties. The deal, first proposed earlier this year, gives AT&T wireless spectrum licenses in the 700, 850, and 1900MHz bands, network assets, retail stores, and 620,000 subscribers in markets sprinkled throughout the mid-west. However, the FCC has placed conditions on the deal. "Based on our analysis, we find that the proposed transaction will likely cause some competitive and other public interest harms in several local markets. We find, however, that the proposed transaction is likely to result in public interest benefits that, when combined with voluntary commitments from AT&T, will mitigate our competitive concerns. AT&T's voluntary commitments in the areas of network deployment, roaming, and customer transition allow us to conclude that the proposed transaction overall is in the public interest." In order to win the FCC's approval, AT&T had to commit to launching HSPA+ and LTE service across the new spectrum assets within 15 months and 18 months, respectively, of the transaction closing date. AT&T also committed to offering CDMA voice and data roaming services over the Alltel 3G EV-DO network until at least June 15, 2015. Last, AT&T committed to offering Alltel's customers a handset comparable to their existing handset at no cost and without requiring a contract extension. AT&T will have to file quarterly progress reports covering these commitments for the next three years.