Verizon Wireless on Thursday announced an agreement to acquire Alltel Corp., a transaction worth $28.1 billion.

Verizon will acquire Alltel's equity for about $5.9 billion. Based on Alltel's projected net debt of $22.2 billion, the aggregate value of the transaction is $28.1 billion, Verizon reports.

The companies expect the merger to be completed by the end of the year, subject to regulatory approvals.

Alltel President and CEO Scott Ford said in a news release that the merger will allow the combined companies to "more quickly deliver an expanded range of innovative products and services to our customers."

Those services include an expanded IN Network calling community and a coast-to-coast wireless network, according to a news release.

The acquisition would, upon regulatory approval, create the largest wireless carrier in the country, with 71.4 million customers. It also would be the biggest telecom deal since AT&T Inc. bought BellSouth Corp in late 2006.