US fixed-line operator SBC Communications has confirmed reports it is considering selling “a small number of access lines.” However, it denied the sale was in response to the massive cash price that its mobile phone joint venture, Cingular Wireless, is paying for AT&T Wireless Services.
SBC is understood to be considering selling between 500,000 and 650,000 local telephone access lines in rural Michigan and Texas, which could give the San Antonio, Texas-based operator more than $1bn. The lines represent about 1% of SBC’s total lines.
Last month, Cingular Wireless agreed to buy AT&T Wireless for $41bn, but SBC said that deal has nothing to do with its decision on selling some access lines. SBC said it has received inquiries to buy its lines for more than two years.
SBC has sufficient financial resources to fund the AT&T Wireless transaction without the sale of any access lines, the company said in a statement.
SBC is the second regional phone company to offload local access lines in rural areas. Last month, Verizon Communications sought to sell lines in upstate New York and Hawaii, which could raise as much as $8bn.
Reduced federal funding to provide telephone services to low-income and rural areas has meant that these operations are now less attractive to own and maintain for the regional operators.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire