Consolidated sells wireless assets for $490M to boost its fiber build

Yesterday, Consolidated Communications announced it was divesting its limited partnership interests in five wireless businesses managed by Cellco Partnership, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon. Cellco will purchase Consolidated Communications’ interests for $490 million.

Consolidated plans to use the cash to forge ahead with its ambitious fiber deployments. During its Q2 earnings call this morning, the company said over the last year it has divested over $600 million of non-core assets. In addition to the newly announced sale of Verizon assets, it also recently divested assets in Ohio and Kansas.

In January, Consolidated closed on the sale of substantially all of its Ohio assets, for total cash proceeds of $26 million. And in March it announced an agreement to sell substantially all of its Kansas City assets for about $90 million.

The company is on a mission to reinvest all those funds into its Fidium Fiber expansion, which it only just announced in November 2021.

Today, Consolidated said it added 9,600 total fiber subscribers in Q2. It built fiber to 142,300 additional locations, bringing its total fiber passings to 832,000 locations or about 30% of the company’s service area.

Consolidated Communications CEO Bob Udell said, “We are on track to achieve roughly 1 million total fiber locations this year as we upgrade over 400,000 passings by the end of 2022.”

Consolidated chart 2

Udell said Fidium is now available in 150 communities. Of these communities about 65% have a population of 10,000 or less; 25% have a population between 10,000 and 50,000; and its largest markets with populations over 50,000 make up 10% of its served communities.

The company recently launched 2-gig symmetrical speeds in all its markets.

Udell said 90% of the company’s markets have just one cable competitor. “By introducing fiber we are providing an alternative, superior technology that didn’t exist previously in these communities,” he said, also noting that the company has not seen any new interest from competitors in the markets where it has deployed Fidium Fiber.

“We’re using a targeted digital and local media strategy to introduce Fidium and provide easy options to pre signup via our self-service website,” said Udell.

On its second quarter earnings call this morning Consolidated laid out a timeline of its fiber roadmap. 

Consolidated chart 1

Ultimately, Consolidated has the goal of hitting 2 million total fiber passings or about 70% of its footprint by 2025.