AT&T may not have gotten T-Mobile USA but it’s still after more spectrum. The company on Tuesday announced plans to acquire the U.S. retail operations of a carrier called Atlantic Tele-Network (ATNI) for $780 million.
Under the deal, AT&T would get wireless spectrum licenses, network assets and 585,000 customers in rural areas of six states-- Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Ohio and Idaho.
ATNI operates under the Alltel name in the U.S. through a subsidiary called Allied Wireless. The majority of Alltel’s assets and subscribers were bought by Verizon in 2009. AT&T was reported to be interested in picking up Alltel’s wireless assets at the time.
While AT&T has avoided larger deals since regulators blocked its $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile last year, its entered into more than 40 smaller spectrum deals in 2012, according to CNet.
Meanwhile, ATNI CEO Michael T. Prior said Alltel customers “will benefit from access to a nationwide 4G network, a larger device selection, additional retail locations and a broader range of product offerings.” That could mean the iPhone is coming to its rural subscribers.