Alaska telecoms hope to close infrastructure deal this quarter
To compete with the new wireless player Verizon, Alaska Communications and GCI are trying to merge their infrastructure into the Alaska Wireless Network, or AWN.
If approved, the two propose to continue marketing and selling separate products, but using the same network to provide their service.
The companies are waiting for regulatory approval of that plan, but have said they hope to close on the deal this quarter. The company will be two-thirds owned by GCI and the rest by Alaska Communications, with GCI paying $100 million to its fellow Anchorage-based telecom.
Current GCI Executive Vice President Wilson Hughes will become the CEO of the Alaska Wireless Network.
The companies have asked the Federal Communications Commission for expedited consideration of the request so that they could take advantage of the 2013 summer construction season. On May 29, they filed documents dated from August 2012 requesting approval of the transaction, and outlining their case to do so.
Those telecoms also participate in federally-supported programs that Verizon is not a part of in Alaska.
Verizon isn’t using any federal funding for rural services in Alaska, or receiving support from the Universal Service Fund, while ACS and GCI have indicated they will continue to seek support for rural connections. Those two companies also provide the federally-subsidized Lifeline program for customers who meet certain income criteria, which Verizon does not offer.
And, at least for now, ACS and GCI receive some roaming and backhaul activity from Verizon customers, which they have said they anticipate continuing on the AWN.