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Verizon, Unicel customers in area to become part of AT&T

Verizon Wireless subscribers in several area counties will be affected by the sale of some Verizon assets to AT&T.

After Verizon purchased Alltel, federal authorities ordered the sale of some of the overlapping properties involved in the sale.

Verizon subscribers in Chippewa, Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker, Nicollet, Renville and Sibley counties will become part of AT&T in the future.

Also to be part of AT&T are Unicel subscribers in the counties listed above as well as Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Redwood, Yellow Medicine and a number of other counties in southern Minnesota.

The sale is expected to be final in the fourth quarter of the year. It will take less than a year after that to convert new customers to AT&T's network.

AT&T uses different technology; thus, the customers affected by the sale will have to purchase new phones when the change goes into effect.

In all, the deal to purchase 79 mostly rural coverage areas across the country will cost AT&T $2.35 billion.

Vince Lubben, a co-owner of the Wireless World store in Willmar, said he didn't know exactly when the sale would go through, but his staff is ready to work with customers who are affected. Wireless World, on South First Street, is not owned by Verizon but is a retailer for Verizon Wireless.

The sale of portions of Verizon's network is beyond the control of local vendors and even beyond Verizon's control, Lubben said.

"We just make the best of it," he added. "We will be here to help them through the changes, no matter what."