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In the latest acquisition, AT&T will be acquiring Alltel’s remaining operating markets.
Chris Morran of The Consumerist describes the buzz as a "shell game," where consumers have to try to keep track of the mergers and divestitures in the ever-changing wireless market.
The announcement comes weeks after AT&T terminating its bid for T-Mobile USA, ending a nine-month-long controversy over the merger's monopolistic implications. AT&T announced in March that it planned to acquire T-Mobile USA for $39 billion, which would have made it the largest wireless provider in the country. The company is currently the second-largest wireless provider, behind Verizon.
The deal came under fire from competitors and regulators. Sprint Nextel said the prospective merger would lead to a duopoly between AT&T and Verizon, who together would have controlled 80 percent of the market. The DOJ sued AT&T in August over concern about higher consumer prices and reduced competition and choice.
The Alltel acquisition, however, is not expected to cause as much controversy as the deal is much smaller than AT&T's last attempt.
AT&T will likely have less trouble seeking FCC approval than it will converting Alltel’s markets from CDMA to GSM, Engaget projects: "Besides regulatory approval, which shouldn't prove to be a major obstacle, the company also faces challenges integrating Alltel's existing infrastructure with its own," Terrence O'Brien writes.
[Editor's note: The original headline of this article misstated the amount that AT&T agreed to pay for Alltel. AT&T will pay $780 million.]