ACS to Sell Wireless Unit to GCI to Cut Debt, Focus on Broadband, IT Business
Alaska Communications announced a plan Thursday to reduce debt by selling its wireless assets to General Communications Incorporated, or GCI, for $300 million. As KUAC’s Tim Ellis reports, company officials say its wireless customers won’t see any changes until early next year.
Alaska Communications spokeswoman Hannah Blankenship says it’ll take a few weeks for the deal to close. But she says the company’s 100,000 wireless customers should officially become GCI customers by the end of March.
“Nothing changes for our wireless customers today,” she said. “We will continue to serve our wireless customers until the transition closes, which we expect to be within the first quarter of 2015.”
Blankenship says the deal shouldn’t cause any increases in cellphone customers’ bills – at least, through the first fiscal quarter.
“Our wireless customers contracts, pricing and network will not change at this time,” she said.
Blankenship says the wireless operation is the smallest of the company’s units. So she says the deal won’t affect Alaska Communications’ other services. Landline customers won’t see any changes. And the deal won’t have any immediate effect on the company’s residential Internet-service customers. But she says once the deal closes, both business and residential customers can expect better Internet service.
“Business and customers with business or home Internet or other services will benefit from our increased focus on and investment in broadband and managed IT service,”she said.
Blankenship says customers in outlying areas also are likely to see better Internet service as the company continues to improve its broadband capabilities.
According to the Alaska Dispatch News, ACS officials informed their employees of the deal Thursday. The news website says it’ll affect up to 200 ACS employees, who reportedly will be offered separation packages or new positions.
Blankenship says as part of the deal, Alaska Communications will sell its 33 percent share of the Alaska Wireless Network, the joint enterprise it launched with GCI in 2012.
“It will be a wholly owned subsidiary of GCI,” she said.
The Dispatch News reports the deal had been in the works since last summer.
Alaska Wireless Network was formed by the two companies in 2012 in response to the increasingly competitive wireless marketplace here in Alaska. The move was at least partly in anticipation of the nation’s largest wireless carrier, Verizon, coming into the state in 2013.