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Alltel Corporation
Former type Private
Fate Acquired
Successor Verizon Wireless
Founded United States Little Rock, Arkansas, US (1943)[1]
Defunct 2009
Headquarters Little Rock, Arkansas, US
Key people Scott T. Ford, President & CEO
Industry Telecommunications
Products Wireless
Revenue $8.8 billion USD (2007)
Net income $183 million USD (2007)
Employees 15,000+ (2006)
Website alltel.com

Alltel Corporation was a wireless telecommunications services provider, primarily based in the Southern United States. Until its acquisition by Verizon Wireless,[2] it was the fifth largest wireless telecommunications company in the United States, with 14.7 million customers.[3]

At its peak, Alltel operated a network in 34 states, with a wireless coverage footprint comprising the largest network in the United States by area. The company focused on small to medium size cities providing wireless services to residential and business customers in all 50 states through roaming agreements with Verizon and Sprint. These agreements gave Alltel customers access to nationwide service, while providing those carriers coverage in rural areas.

On June 5, 2008, Verizon Wireless announced it would acquire Alltel Wireless in a deal valued at $28.1 billion. The merger was approved by the Federal Communications Commission on November 4, 2008 and completed on January 9, 2009. With this merger, Verizon Wireless now has approximately 83.7 million wireless subscribers, and covers nearly the entire United States population,[4] making it the largest network in the country by area covered and number of subscribers.

On May 8, 2009, AT&T announced it will acquire 79 of the divested wireless properties, including licenses, network assets, and 1.5 million current subscribers, primarily in rural areas across 18 states. Verizon Wireless is required to divest these properties as part of the regulatory approvals granted for its purchase of Alltel.[5]

Pending regulatory approval, Verizon Wireless has agreed to sell the remaining 26 divested Alltel markets to Massachusetts-based Atlantic Tele-Network[6]

Contents

History

In 1943, the Allied Telephone Company, a small business specializing in installing telephone poles and cabling for telephone companies across Arkansas, was founded by Charles Miller and Hugh Willbourn, Jr.

Alltel's modern history begins in 1983 when Allied Telephone and Mid-Continent Telephone merged. Mid-Continent Telephone was founded by Weldon W. Case and his younger brother, Nelson H. Case. The elder Case became Alltel's first chairman and headquartered the company in Hudson, Ohio. In 1985, Alltel launched its first wireless system in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1993, Alltel opened its first wireless retail store. In 1997, the company's wireless and wireline businesses were combined into a single organization.

On December 9, 2005, Alltel announced that it would become a wireless-only company, simultaneously merging and building a spin-off company for its wireline services.[7] The wireline services business of Alltel merged with Valor Telecom and was named Windstream Communications on April 10, 2006. The merger-spinoff process ended July 17, 2006 when Windstream began operations.[8]

Alltel's old logo (prior to 2006)

On May 20, 2007, Alltel announced an agreement to be sold to two private-equity firms: TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners. Under the deal, the two firms paid $71.50 a share in cash, or $27.5 billion, a 10% premium over Alltel's May 18, 2007 closing price.[9]

On June 4, 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported[10] that Verizon Wireless was in talks to acquire the wireless carrier for around $27 billion.

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Mergers and acquisitions

1990

1998

  • 360 Communications (Illinois) - wireless properties and assets, merger adds 2.6 million customers in 15 states

1997

  • Standard Group, Inc. (Cornelia, Georgia) - merger adds more than 71,000 local telephone lines
  • Aliant Communications (Lincoln, Nebraska) - $1.8 billion merger
  • Liberty Cellular (Kansas) - $600 million merger

2000

2002

2003

2005

2006

  • First Cellular of Southern Illinois (Illinois) - Alltel purchased First Cellular for $14-15 million in cash.
  • Palmetto MobileNet, L.P. (North Carolina) (South Carolina) - Alltel purchased from Palmetto MobileNet, L.P. wireless partnerships that cover approximately 2.3 million people in North and South Carolina. Alltel already managed and owned 50 percent of each of the 10 partnerships and has purchased the remaining interests from Palmetto. The partnerships include 34 counties across South Carolina and seven counties in Western North Carolina.
  • Midwest Wireless (Minnesota) - Alltel purchased Midwest Wireless for $1.083 billion in cash, adding 433,000 wireless customers
  • In Summer 2006 Alltel's Simple Freedom Wireless, customers were migrated in non-Alltel markets. (see article below)

2007

2008

2009

  • Verizon Wireless closes merger on January 9.
  • AT&T announces acquisition of 79 of the 105 divested markets.

Executive team (before Verizon merger)

  • President and CEO, Scott T. Ford
  • Chief Operating Officer, Jeffrey Fox
  • Executive Vice President and CFO, Sharilyn Gasaway
  • Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel, Richard Massey

Network technology

Alltel's networks consist of analog and digital systems operating primarily on the 800 MHz cellular band, much like Verizon Wireless. Native Alltel markets consist of both analog (AMPS) and digital (CDMA) technologies. Approximately 76 percent of markets have been outfitted with 3G 1xEV-DO digital technology, which allows for additional battery life and faster download times when using Internet or BREW-based applications.[13] Alltel has posted a three phase turn down schedule[14] in response to the FCC decision stating that by March 1, 2008 A and B side carriers are no longer required to support analog. The analog systems are currently being phased out and will be retired by the end of 2008. While Alltel has not outlined its future path, merger partner Verizon Wireless has already announced plans to switch to GSM-based LTE.

Network coverage

There are currently Alltel-owned and operated networks in parts of 35 states. Alltel uses roaming agreements with competing providers to provide coast-to-coast service. Roaming agreements in the United States are primarily with Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel. The company also has agreements with Canadian cellular providers, including Telus and Bell Mobility. Since many of these roaming partners operate in the 800 MHz or 1900 MHz CDMA band, Alltel customers on national calling plans are required to use tri-mode (800 AMPS, 800 CDMA, 1900 CDMA) or dual band (800 CDMA, 1900 CDMA) handsets.

Handset and technical specifics

Customers of Alltel will continue to be able to use their existing handset with Verizon Wireless when the merger is complete since they both use the same technology (CDMA).

Services

  • Alltel Family Finder: Similar to Verizon Wireless's "Family Locator" service, Alltel introduced a service dubbed Alltel Family Finder where users on family plans can download software to their children's phones and use GPS technology to acquire real-time location information either directly on their phone or on the computer. Users can also set up scheduled, automatic notifications of their child's location at set times, or use on-demand location checks to display the child's location on an interactive map.
  • My Circle, launched on April 20, 2006, is a feature offered by Alltel Wireless that enables customers to make and receive unlimited free calls to and from different phone numbers, including landlines. Initially, "My Circle" gave customers 10 different numbers per account. Customers since have a choice of how many circle numbers they get (1, 5, 10, 15 or 20) based on the cost of their rate plan. On April 22, 2008, Alltel announced that all customers celebrating their two-year anniversary with “My Circle” will automatically receive one free “bonus” number added to their current “My Circle” plan. In addition, on each subsequent two year anniversary on an eligible “My Circle” plan, another bonus number will be added at no additional cost. Verizon Wireless adopted a My Circle-like feature called Friends & Family in February 2009. As Alltel customers are integrated and converted to Verizon Wireless' billing system, My Circle will be renamed Friends & Family.
  • U Prepaid, introduced on January 30, 2006,' [15] is similar to other prepaid services like Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile or AT&T GoPhone. Features that make U Prepaid unique are that it allows the customer to customize their plan with text messaging and unlimited calls to a certain number. U Prepaid allows roaming on Sprint, Verizon, US Cellular, and other CDMA networks.
  • Alltel Wi-Fi, introduced on September 28, 2007,[16] provides laptop access to Wi-Fi hotspots in North and South America. Alltel Wi-Fi is available for purchase by anyone regardless of whether they reside in a traditional Alltel territory. Alltel also has bundled pricing of their 'Wireless Internet'[17] service and 'Wi-Fi' [18], allowing users to roam from one network to another on their laptop.
  • Alltel Voice2TXT, introduced on December 17, 2007, is a feature that is available on any Alltel Wireless SMS text message capable phone which quickly converts incoming voicemails to text messages in the customer’s inbox.
  • PhotoCopter, introduced on April 16, 2008, is a feature that saves every camera phone picture customers snap to their home computers and favorite web photo albums. PhotoCopter automatically transfers the taken picture to the PC.

Commercials

After Alltel's November 2004 announcement that Campbell-Ewald of Detroit would be their primary advertising agency,[19] Alltel used lookalikes of rival cell phone companies' primary advertising characters along with Alltel's spokesman,[20] played by comedian Chad Brokaw.[21] After competing networks complained,[22] the promotional campaign featured this notice on television and the website: "Our lawyers would like to inform you some of the characters you see here are not associated with Alltel. They are look-alikes. The characters, not our lawyers." In the first commercial, at an Alltel store, Alltel representative Chad spoke to representatives of five competitors to his circle. A second commercial was set in a bowling alley. The third commercial took place in a court room, with the faces of the other carriers blurred.[23] In "The Century's Trial of the Century," Edward Maxwell Von Houten, attorney for the People Against My Circle Foundation, sued Chad for attempting to force people into calling circles.[24]

After that, Alltel started a series of commercials involving Chad, bragging about Alltel's service and using the theme music "Come and Get Your Love". The parodied competitors, called "Sales Guys" are perpetually frustrated by their failures and less popularity, even going so far as to harass and threaten him, albeit with less than effective results. The Sales Guys are played by professional actors Matthew Brent (Verizon), Scott Halberstadt (Cingular/AT&T), Ian Gould (T-Mobile), and Michael Busch (Sprint),[21] who was later replaced by Adam Herschman.[25] Each representative wears a shirt with the color of the company they represent, as well as name tags to represent their company. Most ads in 2007 had the Cingular/AT&T guy wearing two name tags—one each for Cingular & AT&T—while that brand was transitioning to AT&T. As of 2008, they added a snobbish wizard into the ads. The Christmas 2007/2008 ads uses stop-motion animation, parodying the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials.

The campaign included a MySpace page, and Campbell-Ewald Digital created The Man Cave with its own web site.[20] The fourth and fifth commercials features employees of other carriers' mall stores trying to convince Chad to end My Circle with $8.00. The sixth has Chad giving RAZR's as Christmas gifts to them. Since this service and advertising campaign started, other carriers started adding similar services. For example, T-Mobile introduced "My Faves" in the fall of 2006.

In 2009, with Verizon Wireless' acquisition of Alltel, Alltel gradually stopped using the other company characters, except in markets which will be divested to AT&T. In those markets, commercials continue to announce changes to My Circle and references to the new 1-year contract in preparation for the conversion.[26] The final commercial with Chad showed a company store with its sign being replaced with the Verizon Wireless sign. It features both Chad and the "Verizon Guy" (played by Paul Marcarelli) in front of the store watching the switch with the rest of the "Network" behind them.

Sponsorships

NASCAR

  • Verizon Wireless is currently the primary sponsor of the #12 Dodge Charger driven by Justin Allgaier in the NASCAR Nationwide Series; standing in for Alltel's former position on the Sprint Cup Series car. The sponsorship was switched to avoid a fallout with Sprint Nextel, the exclusive sponsor of the Cup Series. [3]
    • This sponsorship was signed in 2000 under a contract between Alltel and Penske Racing. Greg Penske had joined the Board of Directors of Alltel and recommended the team switch from Herzog Racing to Penske Racing. On June 19, 2003, Alltel was banned from NASCAR sponsorship at the top level, but this current deal is grandfathered, due to the fact that Sprint Nextel agreed to sponsor NASCAR's top series. The firm may not change names, nor may they switch teams under agreement of this grandfather clause. In 2009, David Stremme would replace Ryan Newman in the No. 12 Alltel Dodge for Penske Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. After the buyout by Verizon, the sponsorship was shifted to Justin Allgaier's #12 Nationwide Series car under the Verizon Wireless branding, to avoid a fallout with Sprint, although Stremme's car was originally intended to use the Alltel colors. Stremme's Cup car took on a Penske Racing livery, similar in color that of Verizon's Nationwide Series car.

Pro fishing

  • Alltel has sponsored professional fisherman Scott Rook during the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail.

Structure naming rights

References

  1. ^ "Alltel History". http://content.alltel.com/corporate/media/history_detail.html. Retrieved 2007-12-15.  
  2. ^ Verizon Wireless Completes Purchase Of Alltel; Creates Nation’s Largest Wireless Carrier
  3. ^ "Alltel plagued by acquisition expenses - FierceWireless". Fiercewireless.com. http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/alltel-plagued-acquisition-expenses/2008-08-13?utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss&cmp-id=OTC-RSS-FW0. Retrieved 2008-09-18.  
  4. ^ Verizon Wireless Completes Purchase Of Alltel; Creates Nation’s Largest Wireless Carrier news.vzw.com.
  5. ^ AT&T to Acquire Divestiture Properties from Verizon Wireless, Enhance Network Coverage and Customer Service
  6. ^ Verizon enters into sale agreement for remaining 26 divested Alltel markets
  7. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20071021215517/http://alltel.com/corporate/media/news/05/dec/n411dec0905a.html
  8. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20071103011214/http://www.alltel.com/corporate/media/news/06/july/n411july1706a.html
  9. ^ Seattle Times Travis. White of was named Co-chair of Operations in the transmittal department of tower relations.
  10. ^ Sharma, Amol (2008-06-04). "Verizon Is in Talks to Buy Alltel". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121260855426646057.html?mod=googlenews_wsj. Retrieved 2008-06-04.  
  11. ^ Nystedt, Dan (2007-05-21). "Mobile provider Alltel agrees to $27.5B buyout". Computerworld. http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&taxonomyId=15&articleId=9020060&intsrc=hm_topic. Retrieved 2007-05-21.  
  12. ^ "Verizon Wireless agrees to buy Alltel for $5.9B". Yahoo News. 2008-06-05. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080605/ap_on_hi_te/verizon_wireless_alltel;_ylt=AqJHSG3EbBUluYXcAMEbrsWyBhIF.  
  13. ^ http://ccbn.10kwizard.com/xml/download.php?repo=tenk&ipage=5549079&format=RTF
  14. ^ Analog Sunset Information
  15. ^ [1].
  16. ^ Alltel Wi-Fi
  17. ^ Internet Access
  18. ^ Internet Access
  19. ^ "ALLTEL Selects Campbell-Ewald to Handle Brand Advertising," http://hdvoice.tmcnet.com/news/2004/Nov/1095761.htm, Retrieved on 2008/03/26.
  20. ^ a b Jane L. Levere, "In Wireless Competition, Mockery Is the Latest Style," The New York Times, August 7, 2007.
  21. ^ a b Greg Williams, The Tampa Tribune, http://www2.tbo.com/static/special_reports/tbo-special-reports-entertainment-chads-circle/, Retrieved on 2008/03/26.
  22. ^ Ken Belson, "Cellphone Carriers Focus Ads on Each Other," The New York Times, October 2, 2006.
  23. ^ http://www.ringtoneshuffle.com/carriers/Alltel, Retrieved 2008/03/26.
  24. ^ Andrew Lavallee, "Alltel Spoofs Itself in Online Ads, But Not Everyone Gets the Joke," The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2006.
  25. ^ Couch, Steve (2008-03-27). "Hey! What happened to the Sprint guy?". The News-Herald.  
  26. ^ http://www.phoneplusmag.com/hotnews/bye-bye-chad--verizon-to-complete-alltel-buy.html, Retrieved on 2009/02/03.

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