In something of a parting gift, Cincinnati Bell Wireless is giving all of its remaining customers unlimited domestic voice, texting and data for no additional charge. The carrier is in the midst of shutting down its service and selling its spectrum to Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ).
"This 'Unlimited Thank You' is our way of letting our customers know how much we value their loyalty and support," Mike Vanderwoude, senior vice president and general manager of wireless markets for Cincinnati Bell, said in a statement. "Our customers won't have to worry about overage charges from now through February 2015 no matter what Cincinnati Bell plan they have and, best of all, there is no action needed to take advantage of this benefit."
In April Cincinnati Bell Wireless, or CBW, said it would sell to Verizon all of its wireless spectrum licenses for $194 million in cash. CBW holds licenses for PCS, AWS and 700 MHz spectrum in Ohio. Verizon will also assume certain tower lease obligations totaling $16 million. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter, according to Cincinnati Bell.
According to research firm Strategy Analytics, CBW is the eighth largest U.S. wireless carrier. The company had 277,000 subscribers at the end of the second quarter, down from 320,000 at the end of the first quarter and 370,000 in the year-ago period.
As the Cincinnati Business Courier notes, starting Aug. 1 CBW started waiving contract termination fees for customers who want to change carriers. Customers are able to keep their current phone number when they leave. Cincinnati Bell will continue to provide service to its wireless customers through Feb. 28, 2015, according to Cincinnati.com.
The carrier is talking to Verizon about expanding their relationship, but what that might lead to remains unclear. According to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the company's second-quarter earnings conference call, Cincinnati Bell CEO Ted Torbeck said that the company has "no plans to get back into the wireless business. And I think, that's a definite. But we're talking to them [Verizon] about certain business opportunities, both on the business side, as well as on the consumer side."
Cincinnati Bell's decision to get out of the wireless business reflected the challenges that smaller players have faced in recent years in keeping up with Tier 1 carriers as they have deployed nationwide LTE services. Many, like Leap Wireless and MetroPCS, have been bought out by Tier 1 players; AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) bought Leap and its Cricket brand after T-Mobile USA merged with to MetroPCS to form T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS). Among the smaller carriers, U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) stands as the last remaining publicly traded Tier 2 carrier.
- see this release
- see this Cincinnati.com article
- see this Cincinnati Business Courier article
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