The decision has been made final, and plans for the crossover are under way. If you have been out of the loop for the past 2 years, here is what’s going on. Verizon bought Alltel, but due to regulations monitoring competition among wireless providers (basically protecting from any one provider having a monopoly on service in an area) Verizon was required to sell some of its newly acquired Alltel assets in 18 states, including South Dakota. AT&T stepped in at this point and offered to make the purchase. So what does that mean if you are an Alltel or Verizon customer? If you are currently getting your wireless service from Verizon then you have nothing to do with this transaction at all. Nothing will change, continue about your lives. If however you are an Alltel member, listen up, things are going to start changing in about 12 months that you’re going to want to know.
For the next year you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Your service will go uninterrupted, you can keep your current phone and plan. Meanwhile, AT&T will be running around the state installing their own 3G service and, as they claim, improving on the coverage Alltel provides. Eventually, about one year from now, Alltel will officially be AT&T. So if you are an Alltel customer now, you will be an AT&T customer then. Simple enough, except that when the actual crossover occurs you will be required to acquire a new phone device, as your current Alltel phone will not be compatible with the new AT&T system. Things are a little unclear yet how this will all work out. What will happen to your contract if it has not run out yet, and will you be required to pay for the new phone?
I’ve heard several different things on this point, and I’m sure none of it is set in stone as of yet. AT&T has said they will offer free swaps from Alltel to their own devices, but which devices will be made available for this swap? (i.e. it’s unlikely you can swap your LG for a new iPhone) It has also been said that you will have the option to renew with AT&T and receive the discounted price on an upgraded phone. But what if you’re not a fan of AT&T, or have heard of their spotty coverage and customer service? What if you want out? According to recent articles if you would prefer to ditch the Alltel-AT&T crossover for Verizon’s service, you simply have to buy your way out of your contract, possibly at a lower rate than your contract stipulates. Which if AT&T doesn’t want to make a lot of South Dakotans into an angry cell chucking mob, they will do. Keep reading up in the paper for updates. And those pesky Alltel letters that keep coming in the mail... actually read them. They will keep you in the know on every little detail, as annoying as they are to understand.