After hefty FCC fines, GCI plans to sell towers for $90 million

General Communication, Inc. (GCI) said it plans to part ways with its urban wireless towers and rooftop locations in hopes of landing approximately $90 million in a sale lease back transaction.

The Anchorage-based operator announced its intentions during its fourth quarter earnings, adding that it intends to redeploy and invest the cash received into our broadband infrastructure in Alaska.

"Our broadband data products continue to provide core growth and our new wireless roaming agreements secure an important revenue source for the long-term health of the company. We also anticipate selling our urban wireless towers in 2016, which will provide us additional capital that we intend to re-invest in the growth of our company. This sale will support significant investments in a diverse fiber to the North Slope and continued expansion of our TERRA network. These steps demonstrate GCI's commitment to being the leader in broadband infrastructure in Alaska," GCI CEO Ron Duncan said in a statement.

The North Slope and TERRA network multi-year expansion projects are expected to total $85 million with approximately $60 million being invested in 2016.

The plan to sell its towers comes just months after GCI agreed to pay the FCC $620,500 in fines after it failed to register 118 cell towers as part of an FCC tracking system and didn't properly light three towers located near airports. In addition to paying the fine, GCI confirmed to FierceInstaller that it had updated its tower registration and properly lit all of its cell towers.

With the fines behind it and the tower sale ahead of it, GCI managed to maintain fairly flat revenues within its wireless division. The company posted $268 million in total wireless revenue for 2015, down one percent from 2014. While GCI's revenue from roaming and backhaul rose, wholesale wireless revenue fell year-over-year.

GCI's wireline revenue trended in the opposite direction, with full year revenues reaching $711 million, up 11 percent year-over-year.

For more:
- see this GCI earnings release

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