Rural communications service provider Plateau Telecommunications said today that it has reached an agreement to sell its wireless operations in eastern New Mexico and West Texas to AT&T, making Plateau the latest in a long line of small carriers that have moved away from the wireless market. The operations that are being sold are comprised of partnerships between Plateau, Yucca Telecom, Five Area Telephone Cooperative, South Plains Telephone Cooperative, Mid-Plains Rural Telephone Cooperative and West Texas Rural Telephone.
For decades, Plateau has been the incumbent local carrier in parts of New Mexico and the company will continue to offer landline communications services including IPTV and high-speed Internet. In today’s announcement, Plateau CEO Tom Phelps said “Plateau is a very diverse telecommunications company. While the wireless part of the business has certainly been important to us, we are pleased to be in a position to focus more on our other quality telecommunication services provided through our extensive fiber network.”
Rural Wireless Consolidation
In recent years, rural wireless network operators have found it increasingly difficult to compete with large national carriers that have broader device selections, exclusive handset deals and nationwide plans.Fortunately however, the large national carriers are hungry for spectrum and the smaller carriers generally have no trouble finding buyers for their wireless operations.
Back in 2012, Plateau sold other wireless operations to Verizon. Meanwhile, AT&T has acquired the operations of other small wireless carriers, including Iowa-based Long Lines.
The AT&T/ Plateau deal requires regulatory approval and is expected to close in the second half of 2014.