Verizon may buy wireless access for $550M

Verizon Communications is in talks to acquire shares in wireless licenses in Arizona, California, Georgia, Ohio and Tennessee, the company said Monday.

The deal would see Verizon acquire coverage areas from Dobson Communications for approximately $US550 million, including $202 million for an area in Tennessee with approximately 290,000 potential customers, the companies said in a statement.

While the boards of both companies have conditionally approved the deals, they are still negotiating "definitive agreements," the companies said.

In the deal, Verizon would gain Dobson's 75 percent interest in a license covering Gila and Pinal counties in Arizona, which are adjacent to existing Verizon service areas in that state, giving it access to 200,000 people in that rural service area. In California, Verizon would gain access to 147,000 people in Imperial County, which is adjacent to its coverage area in San Diego. Verizon would gain access to 250,000 people in eight counties in Northern Georgia.

Verizon would also gain access to 260,000 potential customers near Toledo, Ohio, and 290,000 people located in six counties in eastern Tennessee, the companies said in a statement. In eastern Tennessee, Dobson jointly owns the licenses there with AT&T Corp. Verizon would be purchasing both companies' shares in the licenses.

If the sales go through, Dobson will use the funds to reduce its debt, the companies said.

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