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Proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger may increase Southeast area coverage

Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2011

AT&T’s announcement of acquisition plans for T-Mobile could mean higher speeds in Southeast Alaska.

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“With this transaction, we commit to significant expansion of 4G to 95 percent of the population, including rural communities and small towns,” said AT&T Spokeswoman Colleen Smith.

She said the transaction will address the “infrastructure deployment” concerning 4G speeds in the Southeast area, building on the 3G network called the HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) that was launched in January 2010

“Customers in Alaska will see service improvements, including better voice quality and data service,” said Smith. “We’re working on building up speeds for a lot of these areas.”

ATT already currently uses HSPA+ in some other areas of the country that get 4G speeds and is currently in the process of installing the more widespread LTE (Long Term Evolution) 4G network to be completed by 2013.

A plan within the transaction is to make those speeds more widespread by immediately gaining cell sites that would take at least five years to build without the merger. This is to increase availability without the need for additional construction.

“The acquisition will increase AT&T’s network density by approximately 30 percent in some of its most populated areas without constructing new cell towers,” Smith said.

AT&T provided a map of Alaska’s projected 4G LTE network to demonstrate this. The projection for five years after the transaction’s completion shows availability in several Southeast areas. The map shows it would be restricted to Juneau without the merger.

Smith said there is a definitive agreement for T-Mobile’s acquisition, but it still needs to be finalized through all the regulators. She anticipates it will take about a year for this to happen. Until then there will be no changes to plan options.

“Until the deal closes everything will be business as usual for each separate company,” Smith said.

Smith said it’s too early to anticipate how T-Mobile and AT&T plans will be integrated but details will be released further down the line. She said it’s also too early to tell if T-Mobile products will be sold in Juneau.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.



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