Monday, November 9, 2009

AT&T Gets Centennial OK

The FCC and DOJ have approved the acquisition of Centennial Wireless by AT&T. The requirements include a little good news for roamers. From AT&T's press release:
  • "AT&T will honor existing roaming agreements with other carriers for the life of the contract — or, for carriers with fewer than 10 million subscribers, will maintain the roaming agreement for at least four years or the full term of the agreement with Centennial, whichever is longer."

The FCC also keeps Centennial's CDMA roaming in Puerto Rico available for 18 months:

  • "We condition our approval of this transaction on AT&T’s commitment to operate and maintain a CDMA network in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for 18 months after the Merger Closing Date." "We find that a period of eighteen months will allow carriers using Centennial’s CDMA network sufficient time to implement alternatives."

The CDMA carrier that roam on Centennial in Puerto Rico is mostly Sprint.

It appears everybody got something. What was surprising was how small Centennial's GSM roaming business is. What seemed like a big concern to some users, turns out to be of little concern to the FCC. Then there's the handful of areas where AT&T and Verizon will exchange customers and networks, requiring some changes in handsets and coverage. A few hundred thousand users will just need to grin and bear it. One upside is that AT&T will upgrade the entire Centennial network to 3G before the transition is complete. And, apparently, before other parts of the AT&T network get upgrades as well.

As a side note, we still lament the loss of any wireless carrier. Centennial did a good job but got out of the business mostly because AT&T's offer was more attractive than continuing to run the network. We all need to grin and bear that reality.

1 comment:

William said...

Centennial had stellar network coverage within its area, but that's the only real perk they offered. Their customer service was pretty awful, and their plans were not generous at all. Centennial was once a stronghold in Central Louisiana, but as of late, faced a dwindling subscriber base because At&t--a national carrier--offered better rates and customer service than the local carrier. I am surprised this acquisition did not occur sooner.