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Verizon to say farewell to cell towers, wireline assets?

The company is close to selling off parts of its wireline business and cellular towers for $10 billion so it can focus on its core wireless service, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Verizon is reportedly readying a deal that will lighten its load.

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam and his company have signaled intent to sell nonessential assets for months. CNET

The nation's largest wireless service provider by customer base is close to a deal to sell off parts of its wireline business and cellular towers for $10 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), which cited unnamed sources.

The deal will allow Verizon to focus more directly on its core wireless service, which makes up more than 70 percent of its revenue. The sale will also give the company some financial flexibility; it is still working off the debt it accumulated when it acquired full control of Verizon Wireless last year, and just committed to paying $10.4 billion in wireless licenses in the latest Federal Communications Commission spectrum auction.

AT&T, which was the leading bidder in the auction with $18.2 billion worth of spectrum, is also looking for interested parties for its data centers, the Journal reported.

Both carriers need additional spectrum to power their wireless networks and to ensure Netflix videos and streaming music run smoothly on your smartphones.

Verizon's asset sale will involve multiple deals with different buyers, which could come later this week, the Journal reported. A deal isn't a surprise; the company has been telegraphing its intent to sell its nonessential assets for months.

It isn't the first time Verizon has unloaded slower-growing businesses. The company in 2009 sold 4.5 million landlines to regional telephone company Frontier Communications. It shed its directories business in 2006.

A wireless carrier doesn't necessarily need cell towers to run a cellular business. T-Mobile sold its cellular towers to Crown Castle for $2.4 billion in 2009. Rather than manage the towers themselves, the carriers have been more willing to let other companies manage the tower, while they lease space for their own antennas.

A Verizon spokesman and an AT&T spokesman declined to comment.