Verizon has confirmed to Fierce Wireless that it is in the process of acquiring West Central Wireless, a regional carrier in mid-Texas. It hasn’t disclosed the terms of the deal.
The news was first spotted by Wave7 Research principal Jeff Moore, who noticed a letter to West Central subscribers on the company’s website. The letter said the carrier had “entered into a transaction with Verizon that will result in us discontinuing our mobile and fixed wireless operations in your area towards mid-2023.” A Verizon spokesperson confirmed in an email, “Verizon has signed an agreement to acquire select spectrum and wireless assets of West Central Wireless. The acquisition is subject to FCC approval and other conditions and is expected to close in mid-2023.”
In addition to its mobile service, West Central, based in San Angelo, Texas, also offers fixed wireless access through the brand West Central Net.
According to a FAQ page, the company stopped activating new customers for cellular and internet service on November 30. It plans to continue to upgrade customers’ phones through the end of the second quarter 2023, or while phone supplies last. And it will also continue to repair or replace fixed internet CPE equipment. “We anticipate the FCC to approve our transaction with Verizon in the second half of 2023. Once approved, we will reach out to you to let you know when you are able to transfer your wireless/mobile service and/or internet to Verizon or another provider,” stated West Central in its letter.
Small wireless carriers dwindle Verizon and AT&T have acquired numerous regional carriers during the past two decades, which was detailed by Moore in an editorial earlier this year.
It appears that the days of many small wireless operators in the U.S. are coming to a close. When one of the big three wireless carriers offers a nice payday, it would be hard for the owner of a small wireless business to say “no.” In fact, they’re probably popping a bottle of champagne.
The consolidation of carriers does raise a question about the future of organizations such as the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA).
As the CCA’s annual convention was wrapping up in September, Tim Donovan, currently SVP of legislative affairs at CCA and incoming president and CEO, reflected on where the organization has come from and where it’s headed.
He said, “There has been consolidation. But there’s still a lot of strong, independent small carriers.”
CCA doesn’t disclose how many carrier members are in its ranks.