The country’s largest wireless telecommunications company is expanding its reach into Bowling Green and other parts of Kentucky.
Verizon, the New York City-based telecommunications giant, said Monday that it has signed an agreement to acquire certain assets of Bluegrass Cellular, a rural wireless operator serving central Kentucky from its headquarters in Elizabethtown.
Bluegrass Cellular’s 19 retail outlets (including two in Bowling Green) and its 210,000 customers across 34 counties will eventually transition to Verizon once the deal clears the hurdle of Federal Communications Commission approval.
No financial details of the acquisition were revealed, but a news release from Verizon said the deal should close late this year or early in 2021.
“We are excited to acquire certain assets of Bluegrass Cellular and expand our footprint in Kentucky,” Ronan Dunne, executive vice president and CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, said in the news release. “We look forward to welcoming Bluegrass customers and employees into the Verizon family and providing them with reliable wireless service alongside a best-in-class customer experience.”
Bluegrass Cellular, which was established 29 years ago, is joining a large family.
Verizon, with 120 million subscribers and revenue of $131.9 billion in 2019, was ranked this year as the largest wireless communications service provider in the U.S. by the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association. It’s ranked ahead of T-Mobile US, with 98.3 million subscribers, and AT&T Mobility, with 92.9 million.
That size should mean good things for Bluegrass Cellular customers and its 450 employees, a Bluegrass Cellular executive said.
“We’re excited because being part of Verizon will help us grow and add things,” said Barry Nophstine, vice president of sales and marketing for Bluegrass Cellular.
Nophstine said Bluegrass Cellular already had a relationship with Verizon.
Bluegrass Cellular was on board when Verizon launched its rural LTE initiative in 2012. Through its LTE in Rural America program, Verizon provided technical support and resources to help rural companies build out the LTE data network.
Now, with 5G wireless data speeds being introduced, Nophstine said joining Verizon was an easy decision.
“This will allow us to offer next-level services,” Nophstine said. “It seemed like a natural. It will allow our customers more options. Verizon’s portfolio is second to none.”
A letter to customers on the Bluegrass Cellular website said: “As we looked at the resources required to take our wireless network to the next level, it became clear that Verizon had the best capabilities and the commitment to evolve Bluegrass Cellular’s vision of world-class wireless service in these communities.”
The letter said joining forces with Verizon “will give our customers access to new network advances like 5G, more options in devices, tablets and wearables, and more choices in international calling and roaming options.”
Nophstine said Bluegrass Cellular customers don’t need to take any action now. They will be hearing soon about available service options and pricing, he said.
As for Bluegrass Cellular employees, Nophstine said: “They will receive offers to join Verizon. That will take place over the next few weeks.”
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.