FCC signs off on AT&T's purchase of Verizon assets

The FCC approved AT&T's (NYSE:T) $2.35 billion purchase of former Alltel assets that Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) was required to divest, bringing to a close a transaction first announced in May 2009.

In unanimously approving the deal--essentially an asset swap between the two mammoth wireless carriers--the five-member commission said the voluntary conditions proposed by AT&T for the deal are "likely to result in transaction-specific public interest benefits." Most of the conditions involve deals with smaller operators and roaming agreements.

AT&T Mobility will net 1.6 million new subscribers in 79 service areas spread across 18 states. Most of the assets are from the former Alltel properties Verizon was required to divest due to its blockbuster $28.1 billion acquisition of Alltel that closed in January 2009. Also as part of the transaction, Verizon will get around 120,000 subscribers in five service areas in Louisiana and Mississippi that AT&T was required to divest as a condition of its $944 million acquisition of Centennial Communications, announced in late 2008.

AT&T said that over the next 12 months it will launch service on a market-by-market basis across the new territory as it converts the CDMA properties to GSM. The carrier said that, for now, there will be no changes to customers' phone numbers, rate plans, network coverage, customer service contacts or bill payments. AT&T said that during the network integration, customers will be able to get a devices comparable to their existing device at no additional cost.

For more:
- see this release
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.) 

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