Kansas City, Mo. -- Sprint PCS, the digital
wireless-communications firm owned by Sprint Corp. and three major MSOs, said last week
that it has purchased the remaining piece of its Washington, D.C./Baltimore affiliate that
it didn't already own.
Sprint Spectrum/American Personal Communications was
already 58.5 percent-owned by Sprint PCS. The remaining 41.5 percent share of the venture
was owned by American Personal Communications II L.P., which was mostly owned by APC
founder Wayne Schelle and partly owned by a subsidiary of German phone giant Deutsche
Sprint PCS had paid $23 million for its first 49 percent
stake in APC, buying out part of The Washington Post Co.'s interest in the venture.
Sprint PCS bought another slice from APC in November. It was always expected that Sprint
PCS would buy the rest of the venture, spokesman Tom Murphy said.
APC launched the nation's first all-digital
personal-communications service in November 1995. APC was one of three companies granted a
'pioneer's preference' discount on a regional license to operate a digital
PCS service in the Washington-Baltimore corridor.
Cox Communications Inc., a part-owner of Sprint PCS, won a
pioneer's preference designation for a license in Southern California, and Omnipoint
Corp. won one in the New York metropolitan area.
The Washington-Baltimore system is based on the GSM (global
system for mobile communications) standard, which is incompatible with the CDMA
(code-division multiple access) standard technology that Sprint PCS uses everywhere else
in the country. Murphy said Sprint PCS would continue to support GSM customers in the
Washington area, adding that there are no specific plans to add a CDMA service there.
Washington-based Sprint PCS customers are forced to pay roaming charges to other GSM-based
networks when they travel outside of the area.
In connection with the deal, Wayne Schelle retired as
chairman of Sprint Spectrum/APC, and his son, Scott Schelle, resigned as CEO. Sprint PCS
appointed former Philadelphia-area manager Pat Bennett as vice president for
The other partners in Sprint PCS are Tele-Communications
Inc. and Comcast Corp. The service is currently operating in 134 markets, with plans to
cover the nation's top 100 metropolitan areas by the end of 1998.