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AT&T-ATNI (Alltel) transaction approved (was "AT&T shopping spree continues...")


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http://www.cnbc.com/id/100396630

 

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.

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Well this really sucks for Sprint customers who roam in NC, SC and other states where Alltel has coverage and Sprint doesn't. Heck, I think there are areas around here where Verizon doesn't have native coverage and roams on Alltel.

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Well this really sucks for Sprint customers who roam in NC, SC and other states where Alltel has coverage and Sprint doesn't. Heck, I think there are areas around here where Verizon doesn't have native coverage and roams on Alltel.

 

Is it possible they would keep a portion of that network running for roaming revenue? Several years back, Verizon bought Unicel (a GSM based provider) and they kept that network online simply for the roaming revenue.

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At present I live in a former Alltel market that was purchased by VZW and sold to AT&T. AT&T still operates the CDMA, but I'm told that as soon as the roaming contracts that were in place expire that spectrum will be re-farmed over to the AT&T native network; as AJ described.

 

When that happens Sprint connectivity in the four corners is going to take a major hit. I imagine they will continue to roam on VZW at ridiculously high rates until VZW starts turning down CDMA/EVDO carriers.

 

AJ, any ideas how many years VZW will keep their legacy CDMA network turned up? I know in NM they didn't turn down all their analog until 1st quarter 2009.

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AJ, any ideas how many years VZW will keep their legacy CDMA network turned up? I know in NM they didn't turn down all their analog until 1st quarter 2009.

 

At this point, VoLTE is little more than a popular mystique within the industry. VZW is not going to transition to VoLTE until it can meet or exceed current CDMA1X voice coverage, lest VZW risk its "best coverage" reputation, not to mention, the ire of the FCC. And in rural areas, VoLTE coverage is not going to meet or exceed CDMA1X voice coverage anytime soon. So, I am not the least bit worried about CDMA1X voice roaming for at least the next five years.

 

AJ

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At this point, VoLTE is little more than a popular mystique within the industry. VZW is not going to transition to VoLTE until it can meet or exceed current CDMA1X voice coverage, lest VZW risk its "best coverage" reputation, not to mention, the ire of the FCC. And in rural areas, VoLTE coverage is not going to meet or exceed CDMA1X voice coverage anytime soon. So, I am not the least bit worried about CDMA1X voice roaming for at least the next five years.

 

AJ

 

Well that's good to know. Not sure what Sprint's plan will be once VZW starts turning down CDMA, but hopefully by then LTE roaming contracts might be in place.

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Well that's good to know. Not sure what Sprint's plan will be once VZW starts turning down CDMA, but hopefully by then LTE roaming contracts might be in place.

 

Between now and then, I expect a day of reckoning regarding data roaming, since VoLTE will be equivalent to data.

 

Depending upon who -- public servants or corporate stewards -- controls the FCC and/or the federal courts, an FCC rulemaking or court decision will come down, requiring FRAND terms for data roaming among carriers or allowing exclusion of other carriers on "private" networks.

 

So, either way, I think that we will have some clarity a couple of years in advance of any major CDMA1X shut down in rural areas.

 

AJ

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I'd like them to see that the spectrum being used currently for voice all carries roaming requirements, as well as AWS.

 

When you consider the expansiveness of Verizon's 1x voice coverage and the volte challenges, until they overcome the coverage shrinkage of LTE vs 1x, I'm doubtful verizon ever completely shutters CDMA voice availability in some places. Getting people on volte will help them re-use spectrum, but I think we are in for 10 more years of varied capacity CDMA voice. And why not? Run trash rate codecs and whore it out to as many prepaid customers as you can.

 

It would be interesting to know how many billion $ sprint has paid over the course of the last 5 years in roaming rates to verizon.

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I was at work yesterday and I had 3 customers get into a conversation about how unsatisfied they were with At&t. To me I find their coverage similar to sprints (in my area) but they are overpriced and tiered data. With Sprint, I have no worries and its more friendly on the budget. Not to mention At&ts LTE has poor tower placement in my entire zip.

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So basically AT&T will keep a small 1x network up, and switch the rest of them over to GSM/HSPA? Similar to the old days where they were purchased by Cingular and forced to switch from TDMA to GSM.

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ATT carries a huge amount of debt on their balance sheet and continues to add to it.

 

Probably why they want to ditch last mile copper as quick as they can, if they are even allowed to go that route. I hope they aren't allowed to before fiber is dropped to houses by someone else, like Google or fios.

 

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk 2

 

 

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ATT carries a huge amount of debt on their balance sheet and continues to add to it.

 

I just looked it up, they carry 61 billion in long term debt. I realize Sprint carries ~20 billion and is a smaller company but Sprint also doesn't have the pension liabilities, wireline expenses, etc. that ATT has.

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It would be interesting to know how many billion $ sprint has paid over the course of the last 5 years in roaming rates to verizon.

 

As well as paying US Cellular, C-Spire, Alltel etc.

 

 

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Sprint to buy cricket, us cellular and more?

 

I would love it if Sprint can buy cricket and US cellular. I think 4 national carriers is good enough for the US market. If consumers want a cheaper option, there are plenty of prepaid carriers that can offer that service (Virgin, Boost, Straight Talk, PagePlus, etc).

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Since I live in the ATNI area that's part of the transaction, I'll comment.

 

First off, ATNI botched integration so poorly that even AT&T would look better. Now if Sprint had been announced as the buyer, I'd have no issues with that either, but let's face it, Sprint has bigger fish to fry at the present time. That's a big reason why Southern Illinois, with the exception of Carbondale being a college town with Chicago transplants, is not a big area for Sprint coverage.

 

I assume the 3G roaming will be intact for the length of the current agreement between ATNI. After that... I don't know if it makes sense for Sprint to do anything coverage wise in that area other than a 1X agreement with AT&T or Verizon. It's simply too small, it's shrinking in population, and too rural.

 

I remember having the debate about Sprint not natively serving Chester with AJ. He was right. Short of some local telco's doing a Shentel like setup with Sprint, I don't see how you can profitably serve that area.

 

Through most of Southern Illinois, all this deal does is draw AT&T even with Verizon on spectrum and they'll be starting far behind the Big Red Monopoly here on customers as Alltel bled people away like crazy. At least someone will be able to compete with Verizon here. We're simply trading in a monopoly for a duopoly. That's all. At this point, given the degradation of Verizon service where I live, I'd take the duopoly. Maybe it will get Verizon kicking in LTE deployment where I live. I hope so. 98% of the people here have Verizon and the old 3G network is congested.

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Sprint to buy cricket, us cellular and more?

 

I've often thought US Cellular was a good fit as well as C Spire. I had all but forgotten about Alltel.

 

Cricket I'm not so sure of. I don't know what benefit they would provide being a prepaid carrier. I think somebody acquires them down the road as they are not tearing it up. Maybe T-Mobile will look at them, I firmly believe they are going to end up a prepaid carrier anyway.

 

 

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I assume the 3G roaming will be intact for the length of the current agreement between ATNI. After that... I don't know if it makes sense for Sprint to do anything coverage wise in that area other than a 1X agreement with AT&T or Verizon. It's simply too small, it's shrinking in population, and too rural.

 

That's what people assumed here too. But when AT&T took over Rio Arriba and Taos counties here from Alltel back in 2011, Alltel customers received a notice in the mail saying they had 60 days to either get an AT&T device or lose 3G service.

 

True to form, AT&T shut down EVDO on the Alltel network about 10 weeks later and only 1x remained. My Alltel 3G roaming disappeared in AT&T areas. Well most of it.

 

I still got Alltel EVDO in Verizon areas for another year before they switched to start being labeled Verizon. And I still occasionally can get AT&T Alltel EVDO in remote areas where AT&T still has EDGE. AT&T decided not to shut down EVDO where it didn't use the 850 spectrum themselves.

 

Robert via Nexus 7 with Tapatalk HD

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