04:04 PM

Alltel Continuing Wireless Service In Limited Areas

About 2.2 million wireless customers will continue being served by Alltel until buyers purchase the markets not acquired by Verizon.

Largely swallowed up last month by Verizon Wireless, Alltel Wireless said Tuesday that it will continue service under the Alltel name for 2.2 million customers in 22 states.

The Alltel service will continue until the remaining markets are acquired.

Alltel said it "remains committed to providing a high-quality wireless experience to its customers" and pledged that current handsets will operate normally. In addition, business and residential customers will experience the same rate plans and will not see any service changes.

Various equity funds and other investment vehicles have been circling the Alltel assets that weren't part of the acquisition. Most of Alltel was acquired by Verizon in the $28.1 billion merger, but government regulatory agencies stipulated that some markets be divested.

While Alltel has been clear about the status of its subscribers in its remaining areas, the status of the firm's employees is murkier. Last summer, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said the company planned to operate a call center at Alltel's Little Rock, Ark., campus, but that its overall employee rolls would likely decline. McAdam said the efficiency of Alltel's workforce was one reason Verizon pursued the smaller firm and that Verizon would work to keep intact as much of the Alltel workforce as possible in the merged company.

Alltel said the divested territories now employ more than 2,500 employees. More than 120 retail locations are operated in the divested Alltel regions.

The entire market in North and South Dakota has been designated for divesture, as well as large asset chunks in Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Montana, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming. Smaller pieces have been earmarked in Alabama, Arizona, California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

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