Former Alltel stores begin switching signs to Verizon

Evidence of Alltel's existence is disappearing from the Augusta area.

Alltel stores are now bearing the Verizon Wireless logo.

Alltel customers in the rural sections of the Augusta area -- Burke, Edgefield, Barnwell and Bamberg counties -- will be seeing the name Commnet Wireless if its Massachusetts-based parent company, Atlantic Tele-Network, is successful in purchasing the Alltel markets that Verizon could not incorporate.

Verizon Wireless acquired Alltel in January.

As a condition of the merger approval, the FCC told Verizon it had to sell off 105 of the overlapping network areas.

Verizon spokeswoman Caran Smith said two company-owned Alltel stores have been rebranded to Verizon locations: 2903 Washington Road in Augusta and 1690 Knox Ave. in North Augusta.

"A majority of all employees did come over," she said.

Independent Alltel dealers also made the transition to Verizon retailers, she said.

Ms. Smith said the total network integration for Georgia won't be done until 2010, adding that there are still areas in Savannah and southern Georgia remaining.

"The bringing together of two great companies was carefully planned and executed with a goal to provide Augusta's wireless customers with the best that both Alltel and Verizon Wireless offer," said Jeff Mango, the president of the Georgia/Alabama Region for Verizon.

Atlantic Tele-Network made a bid in June to acquire Alltel subscribers in six states, including South Carolina and Georgia.

Those markets and subscribers were kept in a trust until divestiture.

Atlantic Tele-Network is paying $200 million to acquire the 800,000 subscribers and network equipment.

Wesley Brown, the spokesman for the trust, said the deal should close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Atlantic Tele-Network's principal subsidiary is Commnet Wireless, which provides voice and data wireless roaming services for U.S. and international carriers in rural areas.

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.

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