CellularOne service ending Aug. 31 in Montana

2014-08-12T09:19:00Z 2014-08-12T23:01:21Z CellularOne service ending Aug. 31 in MontanaBy ERIK OLSON eolson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

CellularOne will discontinue all Montana wireless service at the end of August, company officials announced Tuesday.

The company has notified the Montana Public Service Commission of its plans and has negotiated special rates for customers to move to AT&T.

CellularOne officials announced in May they were stopping Montana service because they couldn’t afford upgrades to the 4G system.

AT&T is not buying CellularOne, just paying a fee to access those customers, CellularOne officials said. Verizon and AT&T are Montana’s largest wireless carriers.

In 2008, the PSC designated CellularOne an eligible telecommunications carrier, allowing the company to receive about $20 million in federal subsidies to build cell towers and other equipment in rural areas. The Federal Communications Commission announced in 2011 that it would phase out funding for those rural carriers in the next five years.

Gary Duncan, spokesman for the Montana Public Service Commission, said CellularOne is selling its assets, including cell towers, to Sprint.

CellularOne and Sprint officials could not be reached Tuesday to say whether those towers will be upgraded later.

Cellular One has two stores in Billings and other stores in Helena, Great Falls, Butte, Kalispell and Missoula. All stores will become AT&T stores.

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