US telecoms company Alltel has agreed to buy the parent company of mobile phone operator Meteor in a deal worth $6 billion.

Alltel will pay $1 billion in cash and issue 60 million new shares to pay for the acquisition. The deal makes Alltel the fifth biggest mobile operator in the US.

Western Wireless has 1.4 million mobile customers in the US and 1.6 million in six other countries, mainly Ireland and Austria.

A statement from Alltel said the international assets 'will diversify Alltel's assets and increase growth opportunities'.