The second largest US cellular operator, Verizon Wireless, has unveiled plans to sell off assets in 15 additional markets to help ease concerns that its proposed USD28.1 billion acquisition of smaller rival Alltel will harm competition. Following talks with the Department of Justice, Verizon says it will divest airwaves in parts of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah. Verizon had already agreed to sell off assets in 85 markets where its operations overlapped with those of Alltel. The announcement signals that the Justice Department is close to finalising its anti-trust review of the Verizon-Alltel merger. The deal must also be approved by the country’s telecoms regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), before it can be formally completed; this is expected by the end of this year. The combined Verizon-Alltel would serve more than 82 million subscribers across the United States, taking it to number one spot in the cellular market ahead of AT&T.