AT&T Gets Final Approval For Centennial Acquisition

With the acquisition, AT&T's network coverage will expand in the Midwest and Southeast U.S. as well as in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This includes the addition of about 893,000 former Centennial wireless subscribers across those territories, and the expansion of AT&T's wired network coverage to enhance service for business customers in Puerto Rico, the company said.

AT&T plans to quickly to rebrand Centennial as AT&T and to make AT&T's products and services available to Centennial's customers.

By January, AT&T expects more than 100 Centennial retail locations to be offering AT&T products and services and have AT&T signage already installed. Legacy Centennial wireless subscribers will have the option of keeping their existing rate plans or migrating to AT&T rate plans without activation or upgrade fees.

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The migration of legacy Centennial customers in Puerto Rico to AT&T products and services is planned for the second half of next year, AT&T said.

Before legacy Centennial customers migrate to AT&T services, the company plans to add 3G capabilities at more than 100 sites and expand 3G capabilities at an additional 100 or so sites in Centennial's markets.

AT&T claims to have the nation's fastest 3G network and one of the few to allow subscribers to talk and access data services at the same time. The company also plans to roll out new technology to increase the speed of its 3G network in advance of its deployment of 4G LTE service.

That will result in an expanded market for AT&T's smartphones, including the Apple iPhone, for which the company still has an exclusive market in the U.S.

AT&T originally agreed to acquire Centennial for $944 million in cash in November 2008. At the time, Centennial had 1.1 million wireless subscribers.

However, AT&T has had to sell certain wireless assets to satisfy U.S. Department of Justice concerns.

That included selling 120,000 subscribers in five service areas to Verizon for $240 million in part of a complex dance with its archrival which saw AT&T also acquire certain wireless properties from Verizon as part of that company's acquisition of Alltell. AT&T also divested operations in three other service areas to gain government approval.