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Alltel targets job cuts in wireline technology.

Arkansans stands to lose about 20 jobs, mostly in rural areas, from the elimination of 350 positions over the next 12 months in the wireline communications division of Alltel Corp.

The Little Rock-based telecommunications giant announced the technology-driven reduction last week, about a month after it announced plans to offer residential wireline service in parts of Little Rock and some locations in North Carolina.
Alltel Job Growth


1996 3,792 NA
1997 4,230 16,150
1998 4,462 21,580
1999 5,325 24,000+

Source: Alltel Corp.

The residential service is a component of Alltel's all-out push to attract customers by "bundling" their cell phones, pagers, Internet service and long-distance with local telephone service.

The pair of critical elements in the approach digital technology and the use of fiber optics for high-speed transmission of data. And both have evolved skills and training requirements that a small percentage of Alltel's 24,000 workers can't meet, says George Smith, vice president of media services.

Scott Ford, Alltel's president and chief operating officer, said in a prepared statement that the company would cut about 350 jobs over a 13-state-area during the next year.

"They're going to be phased out over a long period of time," Smith says. "It's not going to affect the employee numbers at all, because of the growth of our business ... This is nothing but a growth industry."

Smith said the "vast majority" of the estimated 20 Arkansas workers slated for job elimination, and their colleagues across the nation, work for Alltel's rural telephone service companies.

He says they will be offered severance pay based on their years of employment with Alltel. The company also will be offering incentives for early retirement, outplacement services and, in some cases, other jobs within the company

Ford says the cost of the severance packages will be reflected in Alltel's third quarter financial statement. Alltel employed 16,150 people at the end of 1997. The number had increased to 21,580 by the end of 1998. After the job productions, Smith said, 1999 employment at Alltel is expected to exceed 24,000.

Telecommunications industry analysts viewed the announcement as a non-event, saying Alltel has a proven track record for sound workforce decisions.

"It's definitely not a negative," says Anthony F. Ferrugia of A. G. Edwards in St. Louis. "I consider Alltel's management among the best in the country."
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Comment:Alltel targets job cuts in wireline technology.
Author:Whitely, Michael
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 4, 1999
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