Cingular Wireless LLC completed its $41 billion acquisition of AT &T Wireless Services on Tuesday after federal regulators gave their blessings to the merger.
As a result, AT &T Wireless customers in Arizona have become Cingular customers, but otherwise the change should be seamless, said LeAnn Priebe, regional president of Cingular. Customers can continue to use their existing phones and rate plans, she said.
"They will have the same service but will gain the benefit of the combined networks, which provides more reliability, a larger coverage footprint and fewer blocked calls," she said. "We also will have additional spectrum so we can deploy the latest (third generation) technology faster."
Customers will be informed about the merger through inserts in monthly bills, direct mail and local advertising, she said.
Cingular gains a new market in Arizona as a result of the combination. Previously the company, which is a joint venture of land-line giants SBS Communications and BellSouth, had no presence in Arizona except for a small part of the northwest corner, served from Las Vegas, company spokesman Art Navarro said.
The 227 AT &T employees who work in Arizona officially became Cingular employees on Tuesday.
The merger creates the nation’s largest wireless carrier with more than 47 million customers nationwide. The company did not break down the number of customers in Arizona, citing competition.
Other wireless service providers in the state include Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Alltel, Cricket, Nextel and Qwest.
Layoffs are anticipated as a result of the merger, but not until next year. Priebe said it is too soon to know if any jobs will be lost in Arizona.
"Up until (Tuesday) I haven’t been able to talk to anyone at AT&T," she said. "With any merger of this size there are are expected to be synergies once we get into it and understand their network."
The Federal Communications Commission approval came after the Justice Department blessing on Monday.
The approval was conditioned on the combined company divesting assets, including wireless services businesses and radio wave spectrum licenses, in 22 markets in 15 states to maintain competition.
Because there are no overlapping services in Arizona, the combined company was not required to sell any assets here.