Verizon Wireless Takes Rural Route

By Matt Carolan  |  Posted 2002-02-11

Verizon Wireless on Monday announced that it has closed a deal to acquire certain assets of Dobson Communications Corp., a company that specializes in rural wireless services.

The $465 million acquisition, which was originally announced in November, allows Verizon Wireless—the joint venture of Verizon Communications and Britains Vodaphone Group Plc—to expand its network in southeastern California, northern Georgia, northern Ohio and eastern Tennessee, officials said. The purchase of a fifth Dobson market, covering Gila and Pinal counties in central and southern Arizona, is expected to close later this month.

Assets acquired in Mondays deal include network facilities, customer service operations, some retail stores and about 125 employees.

The new markets immediately will switch over from the current Cellular One and Alex Wireless brands to the Verizon Wireless brand. There are about 950,000 Dobson subscribers in the purchased markets.

Verizon Wireless said it will begin converting Dobsons TDMA [time division multiple access] network infrastructure to its preferred CDMA [code division multiple access] network platform.

As Verizon Wireless had operated markets adjacent to Dobsons, Verizon Wireless customers were often hit with "roaming" fees to cover the costs incurred when using the networks of another wireless provider. Mondays agreement will help cut those charges, Verizon Wireless officials said.

A spokesman for Dobsons said the sold markets were of more strategic value to Verizon Wireless—Dobsons third largest wireless roaming partner—than to AT&T Wireless Inc. or Cingular Wireless, who are Dobsons two biggest roaming partners. Dobsons customers were located in isolated or "island" markets, the spokesman said, unconnected to other Dobson, AT&T Wireless or Cingular Wireless territories.

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