Verizon Wireless completes Alltel purchase, will begin rebranding in Q2

As expected, Verizon Wireless on Friday announced the completion of its purchase of Alltel, pushing it past AT&T as the largest wireless carrier in the United States. Rebranding of Alltel will begin in Q2 and last through Q3 of 2009.

Verizon paid about $5.9 billion for Alltel, which holds about $22.2 billion in debt. With Alltel's 12.9 million subscribers, Verizon will now serve 83.7 million total users, although 2.1 million will be lost when Verizon leaves certain markets as part of its agreement with the DOJ and FCC to gain approval for the merger.

The carrier plans to put management of 105 markets in 24 states into a trust until they can be sold. For those markets, no integration with Verizon will take place. Verizon said it will actually keep some of Alltel's GSM networks active in order to serve roaming needs of other carriers' customers.

Starting in the second quarter of 2009, Verizon will begin rebranding Alltel stores and shift customers over to Verizon plans and billing systems. Because most Alltel customers run CDMA devices, Verizon says little will change, although it will send notices about potential impacts.

Verizon also says it will begin upgrading Alltel's network to support 3G wireless broadband (EVDO Rev. A), where it is not currently offered.

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