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Three Wireless Competitors in Alaska is ‘Too Many’; Who Will Buyout ACS?

With Verizon Wireless poised to launch 4G LTE service in Alaska for the first time, Alaska Communications (ACS) and AT&T are hurrying wireless broadband expansions to protect their market turf. But Wall Street investors are unhappy, especially with ACS’ investments in its landline network and the recently announced suspension of its dividend payout. Some are now asking whether ACS’ lucrative wireless business should be up for sale, primed for a buyout by AT&T or Verizon Wireless.

Alaska Communications has soft launched its LTE 4G service in 10 cities: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Homer, Juneau, Kenai, Palmer, Seward, Soldotna, Wasilla and Whittier.

AT&T operates a mix of LTE and slower HSPA+ networks in Alaska and is expanding 4G service to Prudhoe Bay and Deadhorse for the benefit of short-term oil company employees working on the North Slope. But the company is also still expanding its existing 3G network along more remote Alaskan highways.

They are coming.

The investment frenzy is seen by many as a defensive maneuver to keep existing customers happy before Verizon Wireless arrives in Alaska sometime next year.

ACS and GCI, Alaska’s homegrown phone and cable companies now jointly operate their wireless operation together. AT&T is their principle competitor. But Verizon Wireless’ impending arrival in Alaska has shown it is no shrinking violet. There are persistent rumors Verizon is trying to acquire ACS’ wireless operations. Verizon has also announced partnerships with Copper Valley Telecom and Matanuska Telephone Association to potentially expand LTE service in those communities as well.

Investors hope ACS considers any Verizon offer carefully. Wireless is a revenue center for the landline phone company, which continues to see declines in home phone and business customers.

Since June, ACS lost just shy of 2,000 residential landlines and 753 business lines. The company still has 57,000 residential customers and 81,000 business customers.

ACS faces the same problems other phone companies do: network upgrades require significant investments, and investors question whether it will ultimately pay off. Many are also unhappy ACS suspended its dividend payout, refocusing $8 million on debt payments.

Currently there are 2 comments on this Article:

  1. Very upset costumer says:

    ACS SUCKS AND DOESNT HAVE 4g in Seward Alaska I was sold a 4g product that never had service for 4g networking in Seward let alone the kenai peninsula and I’m being held hostage by a contract I pay more and have less service also stuck because of a hefty fee if I leave the contract this is why ACS WILL FAIL

  2. Scott says:

    You have anywhere from 15-30 days to cancel with any Cellular provider after starting service, I’d recommend you take the phone back and get a refund if your not happy about not getting the 4G service and can’t wait.

    GCI runs on the same network/towers as ACS, Verizon uses ACS’s 3G service, so your only other option would be AT&T which I doubt but they may have 4G towers up.

    I’ve tested all the providers in Alaska and got the same 11-13Mbit 4G speeds with all of them in Juneau, but personally I don’t care about 4G as that typically just uses up your data quicker costing you more in overage fees with providers like AT&T and Verizon with the stingy 2Gb allowances. So I’m usually running 3G on my iPhone 5s which conserves more battery power.

    Anyways, hope you get it worked out.

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