With ALLTel's decision to purchase Western Wireless and their 1.4 million subscribers, they will move from a distant sixth place with about 8.5 million subscribers to 10 million subscribers – a less distant sixth (not considering that the Nextel and Sprint deal has not closed) from fifth place T-mobile with more than 16 million subscribers. This acquisition will move ALLTel from a regional player to a "leading" regional player position, but certainly not a national player given that they lack coverage in key urban markets.
The Western Wireless acquisition is certainly a fit in terms of geography adding customers in mostly regions in which ALLTel does not compete today. Operating statistics such as MOU and ARPU are similar for both companies, but low in comparison to national providers. Neither company was working on a 3G network which would enable new services. ALLTel investors rather than consumers are likely to see the near term benefits of this transaction.