Three small telecom service providers based in northern Wisconsin have agreed to sell spectrum licenses to Nsight. Also based in Wisconsin, Nsight is a rural telecom service provider that owns Cellcom, a wireless network operator that has had considerably greater success in the wireless market than some other rural operators. Among other things, Cellcom is a Verizon LTE in Rural America partner, which gives the company nationwide coverage and easier access to the latest wireless devices.
The three companies selling spectrum are Norvado, an affiliate of Chequamegon Communications Cooperative; 24-7 Telcom, an affiliate of West Wisconsin Telcom Cooperative; and Mosaic Telecom, an affiliate of Chibardun Telephone Cooperative. The spectrum involved is in the AWS and 700 MHz bands.
In a press release, Nsight President and CEO Patrick D.Riordan said Nsight plans “to work closely with Norvado, 24-7 Telcom and Mosaic as we execute our growth plans for the geographic area northwest of our existing footprint.” He also noted that “we look forward to building a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with these three well-established companies, who share Nsight’s commitment to serving rural customers.”
Those comments suggest that Nsight might be planning to sell wireless service on a wholesale basis to the three sellers on a wholesale basis when network construction is completed, but an Nsight spokesperson declined to confirm that.
A search of the three companies’ websites does not indicate that any of them offer wireless service at this time.
Rural Wireless Consolidation
Nsight’s deal with the three other network operators comes at a time of industry consolidation. Smaller wireless carriers, particularly rural carriers, have been struggling to compete against nationwide competitors, driving some to exit the business. While some rural carriers have sold their spectrum to large nationwide carriers, the Nsight deal offers an alternative exit strategy that might be viable for small carriers with wireless operations and spectrum licenses – if they have a successful rural operator in their vicinity.