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SBC Continues Wireless Selloff

SBC Communications, Inc. continued to shed just enough wireless companies in BellSouth Corp. territory to appease federal regulators.

SBC Monday sold two offices in Louisiana to ALLTEL Corp. for $400 million.

The all-cash deal transfers 160,000 members of the Radiofone office in New Orleans, LA, and Cellular One in Baton Rouge, LA, to ALLTEL .

SBC is looking to merge wireless operations with BellSouth later this year and is selling off the companies that share the same markets to appease federal regulators. The merger has already been approved by the European Union and is under review by the Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Department of Justice.

Joe T. Ford, ALLTEL chairman and chief executive officer, is more than happy to take what SBC has to sell.

"This transaction allows us to expand our footprint across the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to southern Florida," Ford said. "We are expanding into Louisiana for the first time and are looking forward to bringing bundled services and competitive national pricing to south Louisiana."

Ford added that its service rollout is on target to meet its goals over blanketing the nation with digital services yet this year.

"We have an aggressive company-wide digital rollout plan that will result in 80 percent of our POPs, or populations served, being served on a digital network by the end of the year."

The merger between SBC and BellSouth would create the second largest wireless company in the nation, second only to AT&T Corp. .

In related news, SBC purchased wireless offices in Washington and Texas from Verizon Communications to beef up its network in the Pacific Northwest.

Earlier this month, SBC sold its Indianapolis wireless unit to AT&T Wireless Group in order to meet the spectrum cap and antitrust issues dictated by current federal law.