Sprint Nextel has actively begun shopping some iDEN network assets it is required to divest due to a series of losses in its long-running legal battle with one of its affiliates, iPCS. An Illinois court ruled earlier this year that Sprint violated agreements with iPCS by operating the Nextel iDEN networks in territory in which iPCS had affiliate exclusivity rights.
In early February, the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., made a final order that Sprint stop owning, operating and managing the offending portion of the Nextel network by Jan. 25, 2010. Sprint said its financial advisor, Citi, was handling information regarding the divestiture for prospective buyers, and that it expected a sale to be completed before the January deadline. The carrier said the markets it is divesting cover parts of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska. Sprint said that the divestiture will have a "de minimis impact" on its financial results.
Sprint said that no CDMA assets will be divested as part of the process, and that iDEN customers in the territory being divested would continue to have service until the sale is completed. The carrier said it would work with whatever service providers bought the territory to ensure a seamless transition and that it did not expect any interruption or degradation of service throughout the process.
It's unclear what buyers would be interested in the assets. SouthernLINC is perhaps the only other major iDEN carrier in the U.S., offering wireless service in Alabama, Georgia, southeastern Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle. Recently, Atlantic Tele-Network, a Salem, Mass.-based telecommunications company, agreed to pay $200 million for some of the CDMA assets Verizon Wireless agreed to divest as part of its purchase of Alltel.
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