Verizon Wireless to buy Rural Cellular for $2.67 billion

Another one bites the dust, so to speak. This time around, we've got Verizon Wireless doing the acquiring, as it has just announced plans to pay $2.67 billion for "one of the nation's largest rural carriers," Rural Cellular. The news comes just over a month after AT&T handed over a staggering amount of its own to pick up Dobson Communications, and this agreement will expand the carrier's coverage "in parts of the East Coast and the South, as well as in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Idaho, Washington and Oregon." Verizon did note that it planned on deploying CDMA service in Rural Cellular's existing GSM markets in order to convert customers over, but it also mentioned that the existing GSM networks would remain to "serve the roaming needs of other GSM carrier's customers." Look for the deal to be finalized sometime during the first half of next year, and don't be surprised if we see a few more consolidation efforts go down in the meantime.