Verizon Buys Wireless Spectrum From Northcoast

Leading wireless provider Verizon Thursday said it will pay $750 million to Northcoast Communications for wireless spectrum licenses covering New York, Boston and other key metro markets on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

Verizon will fund the purchase through an existing intercompany loan with Verizon Communications ( VZ). The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2003.

A research note from Deutsche Bank noted that the licenses would cost "significantly" more than Northcoast originally paid for them, on a dollar-to-megahertz-to-population metric. Still, the deal will boost Verizon's coverage in important markets, including New York, Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Columbus, Ohio, Providence, R.I., Rochester, N.Y., and Hartford, Conn.

The licenses cover an area with a population of 47 million people.

In a statement, Verizon chief Denny Strigl said the licenses, "overlapping some of our most densely populated service areas, will enable us to efficiently deploy capital to provide more network capacity."

Northcoast is controlled by Cablevision ( CVC), the nation's sixth-largest cable operator, which started shopping around the licenses in August. Though Northcoast holds licenses in more than 50 markets, it offers wireless service only in northeastern Ohio.

The majority of the proceeds from the deal, $635 million, will be used to pay down Cablevision's bank debt. Another $60 million will be earmarked to pay off Northcoast's FCC-related debt.

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