Cellular Union Wins Final Approval
Cingular to Begin Patching Networks With AT&T Wireless
Wednesday, October 27, 2004; Page E05
Cingular's $41 billion merger with AT&T Wireless Services Inc. closed yesterday, hours after the Federal Communications Commission granted final regulatory approval. The merger creates a cellular giant with more than 47 million customers in 49 states.
"What keeps me awake is what I don't know" about AT&T Wireless's operations, Cingular President Stanley T. Sigman said in an interview. By law, Cingular had to plan details of the integration without seeing its merger partner's internal data until the deal was approved.
Last year and early this year, AT&T Wireless suffered a series of software and customer problems that damaged its reputation and severely eroded its sales. However, Sigman said Cingular's management has extensive experience merging operations, and Cingular doesn't expect disruptions.
This week, Cingular will begin a multimillion-dollar national advertising campaign to promote the merger, and signs at more than 1,000 AT&T Wireless retail stores will change as soon as possible, Sigman said.
AT&T Wireless customers will not be required to change phones or calling plans, even if their contracts run out. As of Nov. 15, those customers will have the option of switching to Cingular's plans, which allow customers to "roll over" unused minutes into the next month, but customers doing so will have to purchase a new Cingular phone.