The FCC has approved a plan to sell off 26 of Verizon’s Alltel markets to Atlantic Tele-Network after the Department of Justice (DOJ) passed the deal earlier this month.
The $200 million acquisition will nearly triple Atlantic’s wireless subscriber base, which is currently comprised of 319,500 customers. Verizon’s Alltel assets will add 800,000 customers in six states to Atlantic’s subscriber base.
Atlantic Tele-Network runs telco services through a subsidiary company called Commnet in the rural U.S. and several foreign countries, including Bermuda, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guyana.
In a statement about the deal’s approval, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn had strong words for the way the commission handled the divestiture of Verizon’s Alltel assets.
Verizon was required to divest 105 markets in order to get regulatory approval for its acquisition of Alltel, which made Verizon Wireless the country’s largest mobile operator.
Clyburn said the Verizon/Atlantic Tele-Network deal was an example of why the FCC must review the way in which it provides guidance and the substance of its guidance to divesting licensees.
“If the Commission does not take a hard look at how we approach such divestitures, we undoubtedly will squander golden opportunities to open up the wireless landscape to new entrants and small businesses that can provide competition and bring a new spirit to the wireless world,” Clyburn said in a statement.
Clyburn argued that by “simply ‘encouraging’” Verizon to consider ways to help new entrants, small businesses and businesses owned by minorities or socially disadvantaged groups to acquire the divested Alltel assets, the FCC “issued an order with limited teeth on this score.”
“Without any affirmative directive regarding the specific ways in which Verizon Wireless should assist regional, local and rural wireless providers, new entrants, small businesses and businesses owned by minorities or socially disadvantaged groups in seeking to acquire Divestiture Assets, the Commission circumscribed its ability to foster a positive environment for these entities,” she said.