Friday, June 15, 2001

Canadian firm
to purchase Oahu’s
Verizon Americast

The acquirer also plans to go head
to head for high-speed Internet customers

By Erika Engle

Verizon Americast's Hawaii operations are going to be purchased by Canada-based Craig Broadcast Systems Inc.

The acquiring company also said today that it plans to introduce broadband Internet service, making it not only the purchaser of a Verizon unit, but a Verizon competitor.

Verizon Americast provides more than 190 video and music channels to about 10,000 customers on Oahu.

Craig Broadcast principal Boyd Craig said the broadband service "is a very serious part of our business in Canada, it's going to become a very big part of what we're doing in California, and it's going to be a big part of our plans for Honolulu."

Craig is a privately owned company with radio, television, wireless cable television and wireless high-speed Internet operations throughout Western Canada and in the Palm Springs region of California. Boyd Craig is also CEO of Craig Wireless.

The company expects to retain most of the 60 Americast employees including 50 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union local 1357.

The roughly 10 managerial employees may be offered employment "at closing," according to Verizon spokeswoman Ann Nishida.

Verizon last year announced its intention to sell its Americast properties in order to focus on its communication services, including wireless and wire-line communications, and long distance and broadband Internet DSL services.

Nishida said of Craig's plans to become a competitor, "I understand there's high demand for high-speed Internet (connections), and we welcome the competition -- there's room."

Verizon Hawaii officials said the transaction, which is pending federal regulatory approval, would have no impact on its core business of providing wire-line and wireless communications services.

Craig said both parties are highly confident the deal will be approved, "so I think before the end of the year we'll be operating in Honolulu."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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