Monday, August 31, 2009

With ATN Comes More GSM Roaming

The recent reactions to our report on AT&T's roaming agreements with other GSM carriers got us thinking about the Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN) acquisition of the Divested Alltel properties across the US. ATN's subsidiary, Commnet Wireless, supplies GSM roaming to almost twice the geographic area as CDMA roaming. It leads us to believe that eventually, ATN will add GSM to their newly-acquired Alltel sites in their 26 market areas.

We got a 'back door' confirmation of that possibility as part of the protest being lodged by a group of Georgia telephone company operators. Their complaint to the FCC is partly based on the fact that while ATN will probably continue to be a CDMA carrier, they will sacrifice spectrum with a GSM roaming-only overlay, thus providing inferior service. Other arguments by the Georgia group seem silly, but if I were sitting at the FCC seeing that a CDMA operator may add GSM roaming to their CDMA sites (just like Alltel does in other markets, today), I would say, "Hurray!"

Not only do we get a new, independent cellular operator across the US, who will probably expand their local service across several other licensed markets in the country, but we also gain a GSM roaming partner with a company that specializes in hard-to-cover rural areas. Contrary to the Georgia naysayers, this sounds like a win-win for the cellular customer.

The Georgia group probably has an agenda that is unrelated to the ATN transaction and focuses more on Verizon Wireless. ATN responded with another press release which is posted on our ATN information page. Thanks for the protest, guys. Without it we wouldn't get updates.


William said...

I can't understand why anyone would oppose the expansion of cellular coverage. It gives us more options, what's not to like about it? Good to see another company offer roaming options.

Benjamin A said...

Parts of Georgia that are going to ATN prior to being bought by Alltel were owned by Public Service Cellular of Columbus Georgia. In 2004 they switched from TDMA to GSM giving rural parts of the state their first GSM network. This was huge for the bigger companies who were now able to provide roaming coverage. Unfortunatly this was short lived as Alltel shut down all PSC GSM equipment in January 2006 leaving quite a few areas to date with no GSM. I think the sooner ATN can get GSM back up and going the better. As far as the complaint I wonder if it was the same group who made the big deal over Verizons purchase of CellularONE South East (Price Communications) and other than delaying the purchase a couple of months lost.

William said...

Where I am originally from in rural Louisiana, a similiar situation occured over Sprint's attempt to add more CDMA coverage in the area. The only two carriers in this small region are At&t (then Cingular) and Centennial, and there is no CDMA to speak of. When Sprint tried to expand their service here, store representatives spoke out against their service, and many people were vocal in their discontent about Cingular having to compete with another "evil" carrier. When two Sprint stores opened in the county seat, big businessmen bought these stores out, and changed them to Cingular stores. Now that At&t has taken over, and with their acquisition of Centennial, these same people have been lamenting and complaining about the lack of options. It makes me wonder sometimes. Ah well...Verizon has pushed further and further south and is on the fringes of possibly expanding into this area. I wonder if the people can (sic) stop a monster as large as Verizon.