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.”
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?