Bloomberg News

Wireless company AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) agreed to pay about $780 million to expand its reach across rural areas, the latest sign of telecom giants' jockeying for available spectrum as a means to expand existing networks.

The Dallas-based telecom giant is set to purchase the retail wireless operations of Atlantic Tele-Network Inc. (Nasdaq: ATNI). The business is operated under the Alltel name by Atlantic’s subsidiary, Allied Wireless Communications Corp. The deal will give Alltel customers access to a 4G network.

Allied, based in Little Rock, Ark., serves about 585,000 customers. The deal is subject to regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission.

Beverly, Mass.-based Atlantic provides telecommunications services to under-served markets in the U.S., Bermuda and Canada.

This is the first major deal from AT&T since the company's acquiring NextWave Wireless Inc. (OTCQB: WAVE) in August 2012, for $600 million.

Stephens Inc. is Atlantic’s financial adviser, while Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Jenner & Block are legal counsel.

AT&T isn't the only telecom making noise in the sector. Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) is currently attempting to acquire the half of Clearwire Corp. (Nasdaq: CLWR) it doesn’t already own. The move trails several attempts to broaden its reach, including the company's buying PCS spectrum and customers in U.S. Cellular (NYSE: USM) for $480 million in cash last November.

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