AT&T to acquire rural carrier Alltel for $780 million
DALLAS AT&T Inc. said Tuesday that it has reached a deal to buy remnants of the Alltel wireless network for about $780 million to boost its spectrum holdings in rural areas. The Dallas-based phone company is buying the licenses, retail stores and network assets, along with about 585,000 subscribers, from Atlantic Tele-Network Inc. The network, operated under the Alltel brand, covers about 4.6 million people in mainly rural areas across six states – South Carolina, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio. AT&T said it expects that as it upgrades the network in the acquired areas, mobile Internet service will improve. However, it will need to convert Alltel’s cell towers, meaning Alltel subscribers will need new phones. The deal remains subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice and should close by the end of the year.
Wal-Mart changes supplier rules after factory fire
NEW YORK In the aftermath of a deadly blaze in a Bangladeshi factory that made some clothing for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the retailer is enforcing more stringent standards with its suppliers. In a letter to suppliers, Wal-Mart said it would adopt a “zero-tolerance” standard beginning March 1 for undisclosed and unauthorized subcontracting. This comes in contrast with its former “three-strikes” policy, which would give suppliers warnings at first, according Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan. Buchanan declined to specify how many suppliers Wal-Mart contacted and how many factories in the world supply the company.
Groupon suspends gun-related deals
NEW YORK Groupon has halted gun-related promotions such as deals for shooting ranges and concealed weapons courses in the wake of last month’s massacre in Newtown, Conn. Groupon Inc. spokeswoman Julie Mossler said Tuesday that the move is based on the deals’ performance as well as “current customer and merchant feedback.” The Chicago company declined to comment further and did not mention the Newtown shootings – in which a 20-year-old killed 26 people at an elementary school before shooting himself – in its reasoning.
Delta tightens frequent-flier rules
MINNEAPOLIS Delta says its frequent flier program will increasingly favor big spenders over people who simply rack up miles. Most airlines reward how many miles you fly, not how many dollars you spend. But Delta Air Lines Inc. president Ed Bastian said on Tuesday that future changes would likely favor travelers who spend more. That’s Delta’s strongest hint yet that it may move the whole frequent flier program further in that direction. Last week, Delta announced that frequent fliers would need to spend a minimum amount of money to earn a higher frequent-flier status. Travelers prize that status because it moves them to the front of airport lines and lets them qualify for upgrades.
The Associated Press and MarketWatch contributed.