RealTime IT News

VZ Wireless Westward Expansion on Track

Verizon Wireless' offer for Qwest's wireless assets does not raise antitrust concerns, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has ruled.

The FTC decision is one of the hurdles that needs to be cleared for the $418 million transaction to close in late 2004 or early 2005.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is still considering the proposed purchase, because it involves spectrum licenses. The FCC will accept petitions from parties looking to block the deal until Aug. 23, according to its Web site.

Included in the deal are spectrum licenses for 62 markets in 14 states in the West and Midwest, a network switching center, cell sites and related telecommunications equipment.

Qwest's customer base is not part of the pact. Qwest will continue to use Sprint's network to offer consumer and business mobile services.

Verizon Wireless is already in 53 of the 62 markets where it's acquiring airwaves. In these cities, like Phoenix, Albuquerque, Seattle and Denver, the acquisition will help boost capacity.

Industry watchers believe Verizon Wireless has struck a good deal because it will receive network assets in addition to spectrum space.

Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications , a Baby Bell, and Vodafone , a mobile voice and data carrier.

The company's effort to expand coverage area and quality comes at a time of sharp competition in the wireless sector. Verizon Wireless is protesting an FCC-approved proposal that would benefit its rival Nextel .

There's an acrimonious history between the two, which has only seemed to have intensified as the stakes for wireless carriers increase.