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AT&T Wireless swaps subscribers with SunCom

Peter Rojas

A bunch of AT&T Wireless subscribers in North Carolina have found themselves with a brand new wireless carrer, and we aren't talking about Cingular, either. Cingular wanted to be able say that they offered service in all of the top 100 metropolitan areas in the country, so they traded a few thousand of their AT&T Wireless subscribers in North Carolina for a few thousand of SunCom's subscribers in Virgina. They didn't have to get anyone's permission to make the swap, but if you're an AT&T Wireless customer who might be a little miffed that you signed up with a national carrier and have being traded away to a regional carrier, that's too bad—your service agreement with AT&T Wireless (and now with Cingular) lets them do whatever they want as long as they don't make any changes that might have a "material adverse impact" on your service. You'd think, you know, that giving you away to another carrier without your consent might constitute an adverse impact, but from a legal standpoint, it's like selling part of the company, so as long as SunCom doesn't dramatically alter the service plan you signed up for with AT&T Wireless, there isn't much you can do (except pay an early termination penalty). For their part, SunCom has made it clear that no one should notice any difference in service or will have to buy a new phone, but they're a little hazier about nationwide roaming, only saying that "We also partner with other wireless providers so we can offer you access to an extensive nationwide network at a very low cost."

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