FCC approves Alltel-Western Wireless merger
FCC commissioners this week unanimously approved, with conditions, the merger between Alltel and Western Wireless.
The approval was expected, as combining with Western Wireless still makes Alltel only the fifth-largest wireless carrier in the United States. With the merger, Alltel will have more than 10 million U.S. wireless customers and a strong presence in rural areas. Alltel’s coverage will extend to nine new states–California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah–as a result of the merger.
Markets served by the two carriers did not overlap a great deal, but the FCC required that Alltel divest 16 markets in Arkansas, Nebraska and Kansas as a prerequisite for approving the deal.
“This action will ensure that consumers continue to receive the benefits of competition, such as lower prices and higher-quality service,” FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in a prepared statement. “We have required divestitures, particularly in certain rural markets, to preserve competition where consumers have fewer choices for wireless service.”