The FCC has stopped its review of AT&T’s proposed $780 million purchase of Alltel, notes Fierce Wireless.
The FCC says (pdf document) that AT&T has not provided enough information about how it will transition Alltel’s remaining prepaid customers to its network.
Ruth Milkman, the FCC’s wireless bureau chief, had requested information from AT&T regarding it plans to migrate Alltel customers. AT&T responded with information about moving postpaid customers, but had no detailed responses on its plans for transitioning ATN’s significant prepaid customer base, despite several requests.
As of the end of the second quarter, Alltell counted around 591,000 U.S. retail wireless customers, of which around 409,000 were postpaid subscribers and 182,000 were prepaid.
The FCC halted its informal 180-day “shot clock” for reviewing deals on day 175 of the review period. Milkman wrote that the FCC will restart its shot-clock on the deal when AT&T provides the information it requested.
Verizon Wireless bought the majority of Alltel in 2010, in a deal valued at $22 billion. The remaining 26 divested Alltel markets, including licenses, network assets and 800,000 subscribers were acquired by ATN. These remaining markets continued to be operated by Allied Wireless, a subsidiary of ATN, under the Alltel name
Under terms of the proposed agreement, AT&T will acquire wireless properties, including licenses, network assets, retail stores and approximately 585,000 subscribers. The remaining Alltel 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 with coverage that is largely complementary to AT&T’s existing network.
Unlike Verizon, AT&T holds very little AWS band (1.7/2.1 GHz) to expand their LTE service. In August 2012, AT&T agreed to buy NextWave Wireless for some $600 million (pdf) to acquire frequencies in the 2.3 GHz band.