HSPA+ and LTE network required to be deployed in new spectrum areas; Alltel customers get new handsets without a contract
After temporarily putting the process on hold to make sure AT&T had plans to transition customers over after the acquisition, the FCC has approved AT&T's buyout of the rest of Alltel. The total movement of assets to AT&T includes spectrum licenses for 700, 850 and 1900MHz, along with other networking assets throughout the midwestern US and over 600,000 customers.
The FCC's approval comes with some conditions, however, related to customer transition, roaming and networks across the areas where Alltel previously operated. AT&T agreed as part of this deal to deploy HSPA+ service within 15 months and LTE service within 18 months in the markets where it acquired this new spectrum. Interestingly on the network side AT&T also agreed to operate CDMA voice and data roaming service on the Alltel network until at least June of 2015.
In terms of customer transition — the point of contention initially — AT&T has agreed to offer Alltel customers a new handset for use on its network that is comparable to what they already owned, without extending a service contract. We can expect to see many of these changes right away, as AT&T likely wants to get those customers moved over to its network as soon as possible.