Report: AT&T's acquisition of Alltel assets nearing approval

The FCC is getting close to approving AT&T's (NYSE:T) $2.35 billion purchase of former Alltel assets that Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) was required to divest, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal

The report, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, said that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has circulated an order to the other commissioners asking to approve the deal, and that a vote might come in the next few weeks. A vote to approve the deal, which was first announced last May, would put an end to a process that AT&T initially said would be completed in the first quarter.

Under the deal, which is essentially an asset swap, AT&T Mobility will net 1.5 million new subscribers in 79 service areas spread across 18 states. In addition, 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 acquisition of Centennial Communications. AT&T completed its acquisition of Centennial last November and Verizon's acquisition of Alltel closed last January.

The Alltel assets AT&T is acquiring use CDMA technology, and AT&T said it will convert the network to GSM. Last May AT&T said the conversion will take no longer than a year from when the deal closes, and will result in an additional planned capital investment of around $400 million over 2009 and 2010.

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

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