Alltel cell phone service down August 26, AT&T reroutes and continues integration

People in western South Dakota awoke Thursday morning, August 26, with some not even realizing that their cell phones were not working.

The Alltel telephone capability was off-line. People who use mostly land lines or e-mail had no difficulties. People who use texting as their main form of electronic communications had little problem. People who prefer the quieter life were not bothered at all.

Starting at approximately 3:00 a.m., Alltel cell phone use was affected by a technical situation. "Basically, it was a hardware issue," according to Amy Grundman, spokesperson for AT&T.

Immediate communications from AT&T to the media was, "We're aware some customers in the area may be experiencing issues with their wireless service. Alltel technicians are working nonstop to resolve the issue, and we expect service to be running normally later this morning. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers."

Later in the day, a little after 2:00 p.m., AT&T released the statement, "Due to a hardware issue, some customers in western South Dakota may have experienced issues with their wireless service today, where inbound calls were not completing. Alltel technicians worked quickly to reroute traffic which helped alleviate outbound traffic. Data services such as texting were not impacted during this time. Service is now running normally and we apologize for any inconvenience."

"It is an interesting situation," said Grundman. "We are in the process of transitioning Alltel technology into our own. We are not quite complete with that yet. This interruption of service had nothing to do with the transition."

Grundman assured against any similar service disruption. "If there is one thing we do when something like this happens, is we take a deep dive to look at what went wrong and how to ensure that it will not reoccur."

"When the transition is all said and done, we will have full-service to both the Dakotas." said Grundman. "It is probably too soon to give a definite time line, but this should be within the next 12 months."

Grundman offered additional details regarding AT&T's completed acquisition of wireless assets from Verizon Wireless. Alltel had previously been acquired by Verizon. "The deal enhances AT&T's assets in a key area - mobility. This transaction allows AT&T to enter nearly 50 new service areas where it currently does not sell wireless service, including South Dakota - Haakon County as it relates to Philip.

"Now that the acquisition is complete, we are working nonstop to complete network integration work necessary to move subscribers from the legacy networks to AT&T's network."

"During the transition period, these customers don't need to do anything. For now, there are no changes to their phone numbers, rate plans, network coverage, customer service contacts or process for making monthly bill payments.

"When the time comes to choose a new device, AT&T will send the customer information on the AT&T phones or data device options available to them, along with ordering instructions. These will be new devices from AT&T's lineup of the latest 3G handsets and data devices and will be available free of charge for customers who choose a device comparable to what they have today. The vast majority of customers choosing 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. Of course, customers will also have the opportunity to upgrade to a new device for an additional fee and with a new two-year contract, with current AT&T rates and associated data plan.