Cingular Wireless and Triton PCS had struck a tentative deal that expands the coverage of both companies’ networks, including the Triangle and North Carolina for Triton, once the acquisition of AT&T Wireless by Cingular is approved, the companies said Thursday.

Under the deal, Cingular will gain access to the handful of top 100 metro markets it does not already cover plus other areas.
Triton, offering the service known as SunCom, will gain network coverage in North Carolina.

Cingular gets Triton customers and network assets in Virginia.
Triton receives some AT&T assets in North Carolina, Puerto Rico and $175 million in cash.

“Employees in the affected markets will transition with the business,” the companies said in a statement.

Triton offered wireless service as a partner with AT&T, and AT&T had equity in the company.

Triton and Cingular also extended a reciprocal agreement for mutual roaming services across their networks.

“Our agreements with Triton PCS build on our planned acquisition of AT&T Wireless. When all are finalized, we will have spectrum and coverage in all top 100 U.S. metro areas — yet another move in delivering on our promise to be the premier wireless carrier in the U.S.,” said Stan Sigman, president and CEO of Cingular Wireless. ”
Triton will ad 30 percent network capacity in North Carolina, including the Triangle, Greensboro and Charlotte.

“With more than a 30 percent increase in covered POPs (points of presence, or access points) and a new presence in the high-growth North Carolina markets of Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham and Greensboro, these agreements boost Triton PCS’s growth prospects and position the company to continue as a leading wireless carrier in the Southeast,” said Michael Kalogris, Triton PCS chairman and CEO. “This, combined with our entry into Puerto Rico, will reduce our dependency on roaming revenue and dramatically reduce future roaming expense. Our agreements also recognize the great value we have built in our Virginia operations.”

Triton PCS serves more than 13.8 million customers.