updated 12:55 pm EST, Fri January 9, 2009
Verizon swallows Alltel
Verizon has announced the completion of its move to acquire Alltel Wireless, cleared by the Federal Trade Commission early last month. Verizon is paying approximately $5.9 billion for Alltel's equity, though it will still have to deal with the latter's $22.2 billion in debt. The purchase should make Verizon the largest cellular carrier in the US, bringing in 12.9 million customers for a total of over 83.7 million; by contrast, AT&T has only 74.9 million. Potential coverage is said to be 290 million people.
The company notes, however, that as a condition of the merger imposed by the FCC and Department of Justice, it will be required to divest itself of 2.1 million customers "in the coming months." Without switching the customers over, Verizon would have an effective monopoly in some regions of the country.
Verizon adds that it will not drop the Alltel brand right away, as it wants several months in order to merge networks and billing technology, as well as upgrade broadband infrastructure. Alltel's GSM network will in fact be retained, as it can be used to supply roaming to customers from AT&T and T-Mobile. Verizon eventually plans to transition Alltel subscribers to its full range of services, including 3G data.