BEDMINSTER, NJ — Verizon Wireless announced today that is has signed definitive agreements to acquire certain Dobson Communications Corporation wireless operations in California, Georgia, Ohio and Tennessee for approximately $465 million. The sales are expected to close in the first quarter of 2002.
Total population (POPS) served by the four properties is approximately 950,000. Additional terms were not disclosed. These four markets are virtually encircled by Verizon Wireless networks and have served as significant "roaming" markets for Verizon Wireless customers traveling through Dobson's coverage area.
"These assets are a strong strategic fit for our business," noted Denny Strigl, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless. "Our experience has shown that by taking over these fill-in markets, we can generate significant cost savings for the business and enhance customer satisfaction through additional investments in the local network infrastructure to align these markets even more with Verizon technology. Early next year, these four Dobson operations will become part of the largest digital wireless network in the country."
Upon closing the transactions, Verizon Wireless plans to begin working to convert the Dobson operations that use TDMA [time division multiple access] to its preferred, CDMA [code division multiple access] network platform, which is in place throughout the rest of the country. During 2001 Verizon Wireless will invest some $4 billion nationwide on network technology upgrades to improve service levels.
On Sept. 17, 2001, Verizon Wireless and Dobson announced they were in negotiations concerning the sale of certain Dobson assets. Negotiations involving the sale of Dobson's partnership interest in Arizona Rural Service Area (RSA) #5 are still in progress. The closing of each sale is contingent upon the closing of the other transactions.
Verizon Wireless will be acquiring all of the operations in the selected markets, including network facilities, certain retail stores, customer service operations and about 125 employees. The markets, which currently operate under the Cellular One and Alex Wireless brand names, will convert to the Verizon Wireless name after the closings.
The following wireless properties are involved in the transaction:
- California RSA #7, located in Imperial County, serves Brawley, Calexico, Calipatria and Imperial. The business, operating under the Alex Wireless brand, is adjacent to Verizon Wireless operations in San Diego and Los Angeles, CA. POPS served by the license total approximately 147,000.
- Georgia RSA #1 includes eight counties in Northern Georgia: Fannin, Gilmer, Gordon, Murray, Pickens, Towns, Union, and Whitfield. The business operates under the Cellular One brand today and lies adjacent to Verizon Wireless operations in Atlanta, GA and Chattanooga, TN. POPS served by the license total approximately 250,000.
- Ohio RSA #2 includes four counties in northern Ohio: Erie, Huron, Sandusky and Seneca. The business, operating under the Cellular One brand today, lies adjacent to Verizon Wireless operations in Toledo and Lorain-Elyria, OH. POPS served by the license total approximately 260,000.
- Tennessee RSA #4 includes six counties in Eastern Tennessee: Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Jefferson and Sevier. The operation, adjacent to Verizon Wireless operations in Knoxville and Kingsport, TN and Asheville, NC, markets today under the Cellular One brand. POPS served by the business total some 290,000. This market is the property of a joint venture that is equally owned by Dobson and AT&T Wireless (NYSE: AWE).
The fifth market, which is still being negotiated, is Arizona RSA #5, serving Gila and Pinal counties, AZ. The business operates under the Cellular One brand and is adjacent to Verizon Wireless operations in Phoenix and Tucson, AZ. POPS (population) served by the license total about 200,000. Verizon Wireless is negotiating to purchase Dobson's 75 percent ownership interest in the market.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 28.7 million wireless voice and data customers. The coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD), including Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular and GTE Wireless. Verizon Wireless has a footprint covering more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 97 of the top 100 U.S. markets. The company, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 40,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com.