AT&T extends network to Mexico with $2.5B lusacell acquisition

The deal is aimed at creating a unified network between the U.S. and Mexico

AT&T will pay US$2.5 billion to acquire Mexican wireless company lusacell, in a major push to expand its coverage and improve mobile Internet service for those living south of the U.S. border.

The acquisition, announced Friday, includes lusacell's network assets, licenses, retail stores, and its 8.6 million subscribers. AT&T expects the deal to close by the end of next March.

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lusacell's network covers roughly 70 percent of Mexico's 120 million residents, and AT&T plans to expand it to cover millions more consumers and businesses.

"Mexico is still in the early stages of mobile Internet capabilities and adoption, but customer demand for it is growing rapidly," AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said in the company's announcement.

"This is an opportunity for us to provide lusacell the financial resources, scale and expertise to accelerate the roll-out of world-class mobile Internet speeds and quality in Mexico, like we have in the U.S."

The deal, he said, is an opportunity to create "the first-ever North American mobile service area covering over 400 million consumers and businesses in Mexico and the U.S."

It will all be one network, in other words, that could eliminate some headaches for customers traveling between the countries.

lusacell operates 3G as well as 4G services, according to its website, though likely at below typical LTE speeds.

lusacell will keep its headquarters in Mexico City after the deal closes, AT&T said. The transaction is subject to review by Mexico's telecom regulator and its National Foreign Investments Commission.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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