Last Sunday AT&T Wireless transferred its recently-acquired Alltel customers to the new AT&T GSM network in Alabama, California, Nevada and Virginia. This means free GSM phones for Alltel customers, but probably not the model you'd hope for. The good news is that AT&T claims you can keep your Alltel plan for as long as you want. The bad news is you need to get your new GSM phone as soon as possible. Don't try to hold on to your Alltel CDMA phone until the bitter end.
We have received no reports from the field about how well the ex-Alltel now AT&T GSM network is performing. The Internet is full of rants about how bad the old GSM network operated and fears that AT&T will be slow to upgrade it. We're not down on the old Alltel GSM network, however, our experience was that it was not up to par compared to their CDMA operations. AT&T has promised full 3G service on its acquired properties, even sooner than its older network.
AT&T also announced they have taken over the Cellular One-San Luis Obisbo network in California. This is a small but valuable improvement for AT&T since they already had a network presence in the area, but a big improvement for Cellular One customers who now can access all of AT&T features across the country. The western half of the country was a challenge for AT&T coverage. That is changing, and that is good.