TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Alltel/AT&T/Cingular in Oklahoma City Market Area

Alltel/AT&T/Cingular in Oklahoma City Market Area
Fri, 26 Aug 2005 19:52:38 EDT

From the news stories indicated.

Wes Leatherock

From The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, OK 8-24-05

Cellular users find themselves left holding the phone after company

By Jim Stafford
The Oklahoman

Norman physician Joseph Leonard and Asher resident David Duszynski are
fellow travelers on a wireless telephone journey neither of them
wanted to make.

Leonard and Duszynski said they were left holding expensive, useless
telephone equipment when the sale of AT&T Wireless to rival Cingular
and the subsequent sale of Oklahoma City wireless assets to Alltel
Corp. was completed in April.

"It's kind of a scam," said Leonard, who said he paid $500 for a Palm
Treo Smartphone shortly before the sale was announced. Cingular was
forced by federal regulators to sell AT&T's Oklahoma City assets, and
the buyer was Alltel.

Leonard can't use the Treo on the Alltel network because it uses a
differenttechnology. And Cingular Wireless won't let new subscribers
bring their own phones even if they use the same digital network.

Cingular's wireless network uses the same GSM -- Global System for
Mobile Communications -- that the old AT&T Wireless network used.

"It appears they may have defrauded us," Leonard said. "Big business
is striking again at the little guy."

Leonard said he has spent hours on the phone with both telephone
companies and the Oklahoma attorney general's office, and has
registered a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.

Bottom line: He can't port his Treo into either network.

Cingular spokesman Frank Merriman said the company won't allow users
to bring telephones from other networks to ensure "quality remains the
same across the board" for its users.

"When someone upgrades from AT&T Wireless to Cingular, they need a new
phone, and the reason they need to upgrade is there is unique software
imbedded in the phone to enable it to work properly," Merriman
said. "The AT&T network is not functioning anymore, and there is no
way that equipment can operate on the system as it is."

As for Duszynski, he owns a pair of $129 GSM phones that he can't use
on the Alltel network. He said he contacted Alltel and was offered a
$50 discount to purchase new telephones.

"What Alltel has said is we have until Dec. 31 before we have to
decide what we are going to do," Duszynski said. "I'm going to take
advantage of that and see if I come across a better deal."

Alltel's Bill Oltean, vice president of retail services for the
Oklahoma City market, said the company offers a free-phone option for
former AT&T Wireless subscribers. The uncertainty wrought by the
wireless changeover has kept him busy trying to solve issues such as
those faced by Leonard and Duszynski.

Leonard said he finally "gave up," signed up for Cingular service and
bought a $200 Blackberry, which provides some of the features that his
Treo offered. He assigns blame to everyone, the telephone companies
and federal regulators. "It's kind of a vicious circle with no one
taking responsibility," he said.


From The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, OK 8-26-05

By Jim Stafford
The Oklahoman

Business is booming for Jesse Fox of Oklahoma City. He "unlocks"
digital cell phones, such as those owned by former AT&T Wireless
subscribers to let them work on virtually any carrier's network.

Fox operates Eco-Tech on Northwest Expressway, and for $20 each he
will "unlock" the code that restricts a GSM -- Global System for
Mobile Computing -- phone to one network and allow its use on any
carrier's network that uses the GSM technology.

"This is a business that's been strong for years and years," Fox said.

The issue of "unlocking" a phones software codes to allow users to
port it from one network to another surfaced recently when Cingular
Wireless bought the former AT&T Wireless network.

Although federal regulators forced Cingular to sell the Oklahoma City
assets of AT&T Wireless, some former AT&T subscribers chose to migrate
to Cingular rather than stay with Alltel and use its CDMA -- Code
Division Multiple Access -- network.

But Cingular has said it won't accept cell phones from the AT&T
Wireless network, forcing subscribers to buy new equipment to operate
on its network. Fox provides a service that allows subscribers to do
just that.

"We just unlock the phone off the carrier so they can put a new SIM
card in," Fox said. "It's totally legal. It's just like owning a
Chrysler and putting a Ford motor into it."

A SIM card is a computer chip inserted into a cell phone that provides
user identity information.

"If you come down here, nine out of every 10 customers that come in
were sent to me by Cingular," Fox said. "I'm not sure it is the
corporate stores, because the corporate stores want to sell their

Oklahoma City resident Robert Orner is among those Cingular subscribers
who brought his own phones to his new wireless carrier. He bought
three digital phones before the AT&T Wireless buyout and wanted to
keep them rather than move to Alltel's service or buy new phones.

So, he paid Eco-Tech to "unlock" them and then took them to a Cingular

"I took it in and the lady programmed it right there and there was no
problem," Orner, 73, said. "So far, everything is fine. I'm talking to
you now on my Nokia 6200 GSM phone."

Several other Cingular subscribers, contacted by The Oklahoman, on
Wednesday shared similar experiences. Their phones were "unlocked" and
put in use on the Cingular network.

A Cingular spokesman responded by saying that the company does not
condone the practice.

"We do not unlock phones, nor do we recommend that people get their
phones unlocked," spokesman Frank Merriman said. "That's not something
that we authorize or perform. If they circumvent the system it can
cause problems. We make no guarantees about the performance of their

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Of course Cingular would not 'condone'
any practice which did not serve to rip off their customers even more
than they have been already. So what else is old news? PAT]

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