The PhoneBoy Blog


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Alltel wanting to buy Western Wireless?

It looks like Alltel has aspirations to be a national carrier is it looks to acquire Western Wireless. This isn’t a done deal yet, but the talks are in “advanced stages” according to the reports.

While Western Wireless primarily sells CDMA service like Alltel and Verizon do, they also provide GSM roaming to Cingular and T-Mobile. Western Wireless provides coverage in 19 states in the Western US, though mostly in rural areas. You can get an idea of where they provide coverage by looking at a Western Wireless Amarillo coverage map.

Alltel is already gaining some GSM equipment as a result of acquiring certain former AT&T Wireless markets from Cingular as required by US regulators. Alltel is, of course, going to convert these markets to CDMA, but they’ll have to continue to provide service to all those GSM customers they acquired. If they acquire Western Wireless as well, then they’ll have quite a GSM network on their hands, which they will likely continue to use for roaming revenue.

Assuming they agree to merge and the US government agrees to allow it, this could put Alltel in an interesting position to offer dual-technology GSM/CDMA service to their customers, or set the stage for Alltell to become a GSM carrier. As a GSM fanboy, I wouldn’t mind seeing another national GSM carrier.

Personally, I think it might make more sense if T-Mobile purchased Western Wireless. John W. Stanton, Chairman and CEO of Western Wireless, was the CEO of VoiceStream Wireless, which eventually became T-Mobile when Deutsche Telekom purchased VoiceStream, so there’s definately some familiarity between the two companies already. T-Mobile basically said they weren’t planning any new acquistions in 2005, so it’s not likely to happen.


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