AT&T laps up the last bit of Alltel Wireless for $780M

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AT&T wants to make your roaming experience in rural parts of Georgia, Illinois, and Ohio a whole lot less frustrating.

The carrier has agreed to buy $780 million worth of assets, stores, and subscribers from the Atlantic Tele-Network-owned Alltel Wireless, which covers over 4 million people.

With the rise of smartphones, carriers are under increasing pressure to add more spectrum to their networks — and with its Alltel deal, AT&T is doing just that. The company is picking up spectrum in the 700Mhz, 900Mhz, and 1900Mhz bands.

This isn’t the first time the major carriers have taken a chunk out of Alltel. With the deal, AT&T is finishing up what it started in 2009, when it bought 79 of the wireless networks leftover from Verizon’s massive $28.1 billion Alltel acquisition. (Yes, both AT&T and Verizon now own former parts of Alltel’s network. Life is tough for the little guy.)

AT&T has been on a spectrum buying spree ever since its T-Mobile deal went south. The company has made roughly 40 spectrum deals in the past year.

As with all big deals, AT&T Alltel grab is subject to regulatory approval. AT&T, however, seems confident that its arrangement won’t raise any red flags and expects it to close in the second half of this year.

Atlantic Tele-Network is up over 16 percent this morning to $46.08 in reaction to the acquisition.