AT&T finalizes purchase of Alltel in South Carolina, 5 other states

AT&T announced a deal to buy the Alltel wireless business of Beverly, Mass.-based Atlantic Tele-Network for $780 million in January.

AT&T Inc. has finalized its $780 million purchase of the Atlantic Tele-Network Inc.’s Alltel wireless phone business in South Carolina and other five other states.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the transaction Friday. The deal was announced in January.

The Atlantic Tele-Network purchase gives AT&T about 590,000 Alltel subscribers, as well as retail stores and wireless licenses, in mainly rural areas of the Carolinas, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois and Ohio.

The total population within the coverage area is 4.6 million people

In the Palmetto State, the deal included 110 employees and 155,000 customers in 18 counties, including Orangeburg.

The other South Carolina counties served by Alltel are: Abbeville, Allendale, Anderson, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Saluda and Union.

Atlantic Tele-Network acquired the business in April 2010 from Verizon Wireless, which was required to shed those assets when it bought the rest of Alltel earlier that year.

AT&T said it plans to make immediate upgrades to the newly acquired wireless network and switch the subscribers to its high-speed “4G LTE” system by late 2014.

“We’ve invested nearly $950 million in our wireless and wired networks in South Carolina since 2010, including nearly $140 million in the first half of 2013,” said Laurent Therivel, AT&T’s vice president and general manager of mobility and consumer markets in the Carolinas. “And we’ll continue to invest to bring fast mobile Internet service to more people across the state.”

The telecommunication giant also said affected customers will continue to use their existing phones. They won’t see any changes to their rate plans, network coverage, contracts or bill-paying procedures, according to a written statement.

Alltel customers will need an AT&T phone when the chanegover takes place. They will be able to keep their phone numbers.

“Before completing network upgrades and transitioning customers to AT&T, we’ll let Alltel contract customers know how to get new free comparable phones — or purchase an upgraded phone — and how to activate those phones on the AT&T network.” the Dallas-based AT&T said.