AT&T announced on Tuesday morning that it has reached an agreement to acquire Atlantic Tele-Network's "Alltel" wireless operations business in the United States. The deal includes 585,000 Alltel customers in South Carolina, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Idaho and Georgia, as well as highly sought after spectrum in the 1900MHz/850MHz/700MHz frequency bands.

Stepping back a bit, you may remember that Verizon and AT&T already acquired several of Alltel's markets. That's true, although Atlantic Tele-Network (ATNI) also acquired a few markets and continued to sell service under the Alltel moniker. Those are the remaining markets that AT&T is in a deal to buy now.

The Alltel acquisition isn't the only potential big deal going on in the wireless market this year. Dish is trying to buy Clearwire for spectrum, SoftBank is in the works to acquire 70% of Sprint and T-Mobile is currently in a deal to merge with MetroPCS

AT&T said its goal is to provide a better data experience in the areas that are currently covered by Alltel, although it will need to convert the network over from its current CDMA technology. The deal will still need to be approved by the FCC and the Department of Justice, but AT&T expects the green light during the second half of this year.

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.