Mid-Rivers Communications has agreed to sell its cellular network assets to Verizon.
Included in the deal are the Mid-Rivers mobile wireless sites in areas where Verizon does not currently have coverage. Mid-Rivers' retail cellular operations will end when the cellular network is turned over to Verizon sometime later this year.
The sale only includes the Cooperative’s cellular network and does not include the cellular customers or other landline or broadband network assets or services. All current Mid-Rivers cellular customers will need to choose a new mobile wireless provider by a deadline later in the year, which is yet to be determined. Full service providers with coverage in the area include AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.
Closing of the sale and the final network transition will take place over the coming months.
Mid-Rivers began providing cellular services in Eastern Montana in 1997, using “fill-in” licenses to build towers where the large cellular carriers had no coverage.
“Today, the cellular market is very different, and there are other providers who can better meet your mobile wireless needs,” said Mid-Rivers General Manager/CEO Michael Candelaria. “The substantial amount of roaming dollars from other carriers that helped build the network and keep it going are drying up. The sale of our cellular network assets now will help insure that quality modern wireless services remain available in this region into the future.”
Less than 10% of the Cooperative’s overall customer base, or about 1,700 customers, were subscribed to the Cooperative’s cellular service. With the increase in customer demand for broadband in recent years, the Cooperative has been taking steps to focus its resources on extending broadband facilities to its rural customers.