Chariton Valley sells its wireless spectrum to Verizon, AT&T, USCellular

rural
Verizon seems to be ditching its LTE in Rural America program and instead buying rural wireless assets. (Pixabay)

Chariton Valley Wireless, a provider in Northeastern Missouri, is selling its wireless assets to Verizon, AT&T and USCelluar.

According to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filings monitored by Allnet Insights analyst Brian Goemmer, Verizon will receive 2 AWS-1 licenses and 2 cellular licenses. AT&T will receive 3 - 700 MHz band licenses. US Cellular will receive 2 PCS licenses.

The company also has 73 cell tower locations, according to its website. It did not respond to a request for comment as to how those assets or its wireless subscribers would be divvied up.

Chariton Valley also provides fixed broadband services via fiber. That part of its business will not be affected by the wireless sale. According to its website, it has more than 3,000 miles of fiber and 12,000+ fiber customers.

The company had previously participated in Verizon’s LTE in Rural America (LRA) program.

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According to today’s announcement, Verizon will acquire not only the aforementioned spectrum, but “the wireless network assets of Chariton Valley’s LTE in Rural America (LRA) wireless network.”

Kirby Underberg, CEO of Chariton Valley, stated, “Entering this agreement will best serve our wireless customers in the long-term. Chariton Valley looks forward to continued fiber growth providing services to unserved and underserved areas.”

Verizon

Verizon’s LRA program was conceived as a way for it to help rural carriers build out their own networks and sell service to their own customers, but have access to Verizon's network vendors, its LTE device portfolio and access to roam onto Verizon's nationwide LTE network.

But recently, Verizon seems to be ditching its LRA program and instead striking deals to acquire wireless assets. Recently, it has struck deals with Bluegrass Cellular in Kentucky, Chat Mobility in Iowa and Triangle Mobile in Montana.

Verizon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

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Goemmer said that LTE was something that smaller providers could handle. But with the bandwidth needs coming with 5G, “you’re moving much more to a fiber backbone requirement,” he said. Smaller providers may not be able or willing to support that requirement.

Meanwhile, the big wireless carriers are paying much more attention lately to efforts to close the digital divide. Goemmer said, “At some point, carriers might decide it’s better for them to control all aspects of the network.”