The Federal Communications Commission, kicking off a new round of telephone-industry consolidation, approved Verizon Wireless's $28.1-billion purchase of Alltel Corp. and a deal between Sprint Nextel Corp. and Clearwire Corp.
The commission voted 5 to 0 to give conditional clearance to the Alltel acquisition, requiring Verizon to sell network operations in 105 markets where its service overlaps with Alltel's. The FCC also voted unanimously to support Sprint's plan to merge a high-speed wireless network with Clearwire.
Both deals will improve wireless services for consumers, FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin said. The Alltel purchase, which would vault Verizon Wireless past AT&T Inc. as the biggest U.S. mobile-phone company, will fill gaps in Verizon's coverage, especially in rural areas. The Clearwire agreement helps create a new source of wireless Internet access, he said.