updated 01:20 pm EDT, Thu April 14, 2011
AT&T begins transitioning former Alltel customers
Following its buyout of rural Verizon and Alltel assets, AT&T has announced it will begin offering cellphone service to residents of Montana. The region was previously served by Alltel and those 150,000 subscribers will get a rebranded service. They will also get the choice to buy AT&T's portfolio of services and devices, including the iPhone 4.
AT&T will offer those customers making the transition a free new handset comparable to their existing device. The majority of them will have the option to keep their existing rate plans without adding to the length of their contract. Upgrading devices is also possible, but only when customers opt for a new two-year contract.
AT&T will notify the subscribers via a text message and soundbite that will inform them when the transition will take place. Until then, cellphones will continue to operate on the existing CDMA-based Alltel network.
Existing Alltel stores in Montana will also be rebranded as AT&T stores, while AT&T products will appear at local big box and independent electronics stores.
More information is available online at AT&T.
The iPhone will have been available in Montana from February through Verizon, but the move brings the longer-serving GSM version to the state for the first time. AT&T's expansion also takes a significant step towards addressing gaps in coverage that Verizon has often exploited to be the dominant carrier in a given area. It recently also expanded its coverage in Colorado, Michigan, and Wyoming through the same Alltel handover.