AT&T advances timetable, will offer service in Montana by the end of the year

AT&T expects to have cellular service available to most of Montana by the end of the year or early 2011, roughly six months ahead of schedule, the company said Wednesday.

Gallatin, Madison and Park counties are among many across the state expected to receive AT&T coverage. The company said in June that it would offer service within 12 months.

The new cellular and data service comes after AT&T spent $2.35 billion to buy wireless licenses from rival Verizon. That company had to sell the licenses to comply with antitrust laws afer it bought wireless company Alltel in 2009.

AT&T has an exclusive deal with computer company Apple to provide the popular iPhone 4, which will be available in Montana when AT&T service begins.

You can read the full text of the press release after the jump.

AT&T ACCELERATES TIMETABLE FOR LAUNCHING SERVICE IN MONTANA

Alltel Customers Joining AT&T to Receive Free Mobile Devices on the Nation’s Fastest Mobile Broadband Network

HELENA Sept. 1, 2010 — AT&T* said today that the timetable for bringing AT&T service to Billings, Great Falls and Montana Rural Service Areas (RSA) 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 has been accelerated and that it expects AT&T service will be available here by the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011.1 That is significantly sooner than the earlier estimate for introducing AT&T service by mid-2011. The addition of these service areas is a result of AT&T’s acquisition of assets from Verizon Wireless completed in June 2010.

Every residential Alltel customer in these areas joining AT&T as a result of the transaction will receive an offer for a brand new AT&T handset at no additional cost.2 Customers will be able to choose their free device from a list of the latest AT&T 3G handsets that are comparable to what they have today.3 Additionally, the vast majority of customers choosing free comparable devices will be able to keep their existing rate plans, and none of these customers will be required to assume an additional contract term.

Customers will also have the opportunity to upgrade to a new device, like iPhone 4®, for an additional fee and with a new two-year contract, with current AT&T rates and associated data plan.

“AT&T has been working tirelessly to upgrade the Alltel network to the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network, and we expect that coverage in these areas will be as good as — if not better than — it is today, with the ability to talk and surf the Internet at the same time,” said Jace Barbin, vice president and general manager for AT&T’s wireless unit in the Rocky Mountain Region. “Our preparations will ensure that we deliver a superior customer experience when we launch service, and we look forward to joining the Montana community.”

AT&T customers have access to the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network. And not only does AT&T’s network cover 97 percent of all Americans, AT&T also has the best international coverage of any U.S. wireless provider. That means our customers have voice service in more than 220 countries and data service in 200 countries.”

AT&T representatives will communicate to new customers on a regular basis about any changes they can expect moving forward. For example, in the coming weeks, AT&T will send customers a letter describing the steps for choosing new devices. New devices will be mailed directly to AT&T customers’ billing addresses approximately one to three weeks before service is launched in these areas.

AT&T is an industry leader in delivering the benefits of mobile broadband networks, devices and applications. With the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network, AT&T provides accelerated mobile data speeds and simultaneous voice and data capabilities for an amazing wireless voice and data experience.

For updates on the AT&T wireless network, please visit www.att.com/networknews.

1 Montana RSA 1 includes Flathead, Glacier, Lake, Lincoln, Pondera, Sanders and Teton Counties. Montana RSA 2 includes Blaine, Chouteau, Hill, Liberty and Toole Counties. Montana RSA 4 includes Daniels, Dawson, McCone, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan and Wibaux Counties. Montana RSA 5 includes Granite, Lewis and Clark, Mineral, Missoula, Powell and Ravalli Counties. Montana RSA 6 includes Broadwater, Deer Lodge, Jefferson, Judith Basin, Meagher, Silver Bow and Wheatland Counties. Montana RSA 7 includes Fergus, Golden Valley, Musselshell, Petroleum, Stillwater and Sweet Grass Counties. Montana RSA 8 includes Beaverhead, Gallatin, Madison and Park Counties. Montana RSA 9 includes Big Horn, Carbon, Rosebud and Treasure Counties. Montana RSA 10 includes Carter, Custer, Fallon, Powder River and Prairie Counties.

2 Applies only to postpaid customers with a contract.

3 Customers with laptop cards and netbooks may not have a choice of devices, but they will receive a comparable new device at no additional charge.