Piedmont Rural Telephone Cooperative “PRTC” announced yesterday it is selling its retail wireless business to AT&T. Under the terms of the agreement, AT&T’s acquisition of PRTC’s wireless business is expected to be finalized later this year after the companies receive approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
PRTC launched its wireless business in 2000 under a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) with Bell South Mobility, which transitioned to AT&T in 2006. A PRTC statement states that the local coop deployed and operated one of the most reliable and comprehensive wireless networks in rural South Carolina over the past 14 years, consistent with its mission as a rural telephone cooperative and with access to AT&T’s nationwide network and products. However, as the industry moves forward with the deployment of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) and future generations of technology in the highly competitive wireless services industry, both companies have agreed for the need to restructure the existing relationship.
This has resulted in the establishment of a new relationship between AT&T and PRTC. Under the agreement, AT&T will purchase PRTC’s wireless network and assume operation of PRTC’s retail store in the Shops at Wal-mart in Laurens. In late 2014 or early 2015, current PRTC wireless customers will begin receiving a separate bill for their wireless services from AT&T, instead of from PRTC. PRTC customers will be notified prior to the billing change occurring.
Under the new agreement, PRTC will continue to be an authorized retailer for AT&T wireless products and services and will operate its own retail store at PRTC’s headquarters at 201 Anderson Drive, in Laurens. PRTC will continue to own its wireless towers and the fiber facilities, which will provide underlying support for AT&T’s wireless network.
PRTC CEO Randy Odom said “While our new wireless agreement takes on a different operating structure, we continue to view AT&T’s network, products and services to be the very best available to our customers.” He added “We value and look forward to continuing our strong relationship with AT&T, and the two companies will work together to provide a smooth transition for our customers, our employees, and our community.”