Bell Atlantic Acquires Frontier Cellular

Bell Atlantic Mobile and Vodafone AirTouch are extending their wireless reach with new acquisitions announced this week.

Bell Atlantic Mobile is buying up the half of Frontier Cellular that is didn't already own. Meanwhile Vodafone AirTouch announced its plans to acquire CommNet Cellular for $764 million.

Frontier Cellular offers wireless services in New York's Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Rome and Binghamton metropolitan areas in addition to six other smaller markets in New York and in Pennsylvania.

Complete ownership of Frontier Cellular brings more than 400,000 customers to Bell Atlantic Mobile. Frontier Cellular's network is based on digital Code Division Multiple Access technology, as is Bell Atlantic Mobile's network. This is expected to make it easier for the networks to be integrated.

Bell Atlantic Mobile will grow substantially when it merges with GTE's, but that's not expected to happen for several months. The combined wireless properties are expected to yield more than 14 million customers for Bell Atlantic Mobile when all is said and done.

CommNet Cellular offers wireless services to more 360,000 customers in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and some cities in Idaho, Iowa and New Mexico. This planned acquisition comes only one month after the Federal Communications Commission approved Vodafone's $58 billion acquisition of AirTouch. Vodafone AirTouch already offers wireless services to 28 million users in 24 countries.

Bell Atlantic Mobile and Frontier Cellular did not disclose financial details about the transaction, but they expect the deal to close by year-end. Vodafone AirTouch and CommNet Cellular's deal is also expected to close by year-end.

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