Sprint, Alltel sign 10-year roaming deal

Sprint and Alltel have announced a 10-year roaming service deal that will expand coverage areas and lower rates for some subscribers. The agreement is set to take effect in July and will cover mobile phones and new wireless Internet devices. The deal is Sprint's first major roaming agreement for its broadband service, which it claims is available to 150 million consumers and will be available to 190 million by the end of the year. Analysts say the deal could give Sprint an edge over Verizon Wireless in the race to get their broadband services to as many consumers as possible. Bear Stearns says the deal may have even larger ramifications, like an acquisition of Alltel by Sprint. Many have seen Verizon Wireless as a likely suitor to Alltel, but this agreement may be a harbinger for Sprint as a buyer. Such a deal couldn't take place until 2007 or later since Sprint is still digesting Nextel, but a bidding war may be on its way.

For more on the Sprint, Alltel roaming deal:
- see this article in The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)