Wireless Tower

Verizon is buying certain wireless assets of Triangle Mobile of Montana, highlighting a growing interest in rural wireless operations. The purchase includes Triangle’s LTE in Rural America (LRA) assets.

Triangle says on its website that the deal is expected to close mid-year 2021. Verizon will acquire Triangle’s mobile customers only and will not include Triangle’s wireline broadband customers or its fixed wireless customers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Triangle Communications is committed to continuing to invest in providing reliable phone and high-speed Internet to our 12,000 plus valued members across our 24,000 square mile service area,” said Triangle CEO Craig Gates in a prepared statement about the Verizon rural wireless deal. “The sale of our LRA assets completes a project started by Triangle Mobile and has ensured that cellular service was brought to the Hi-Line. Now, Verizon can continue to provide that service to the Hi-Line and bring new and exciting services to the area.”

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According to a Verizon FCC filing, the deal includes 3K Triangle Mobile customers. Verizon will be gaining additional spectrum in the deal, which it intends to use to expand its coverage area in rural Montana. It also intends to upgrade Triangle’s network post-closing.

The LTE in Rural America (LRA) program was formed several years ago. Originally, the program focused on expanding Verizon’s LTE reach into rural America, by letting rural carriers lease Verizon spectrum and giving Verizon customers access to those networks.

Carriers had to conform to Verizon LTE network standards to participate. The program also gave Verizon rural wireless partners access to more and better devices.

This isn’t the only LTE in Rural America participant that Verizon has since purchased. The company just recently closed on its acquisition of Bluegrass Cellular. And last year the company purchased another LRA member in Chat Mobility out of Iowa.

Almost makes you wonder how far this Verizon interest in rural wireless carriers will go. At its height the Verizon LRA program had 21 rural wireless carriers participating. The company has already acquired at least 3 of them. How many more are in queue?

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One thought on “Verizon Has a Growing Interest in Rural Wireless, Specifically in its LTE in Rural America Partners

  1. It will be a very red-letter day if/when Verizon announces that they are acquiring the wireless assets of Pioneer Cellular, the wireless subsidiary of Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, who serves southern Kansas and over half of Oklahoma with cellular and wireline telephone service and fiber optic broadband. Pioneer is Verizon’s largest LTE in Rural America partner, so this would be a very big step. Verizon came to Oklahoma several years ago by buying Alltel’s assets, which only covered a small part of Oklahoma, so to cover the entire state, they partnered with Pioneer and a couple of small providers in the southeast quarter of the state in the LTE in Rural America program.

    Pioneer has always been a very aggressive company in providing the latest services to their customers despite their serving primarily rural areas. They are currently in the process of completely shutting down their DSL service and are laying fiber optic cable over their entire footprint and bringing that service to every individual customer, a herculean project. In the process, this brings better backhaul capacity to all their cell sites, which they need as T-Mobile and AT&T have been upgrading their cellular data service to much higher levels over the past couple of years.

    I doubt that Pioneer would be interested in selling to Verizon, but never say never, it could happen.

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