Verizon Wireless recently announced plans to purchase Qwest Wireless' assets for $418 million to expand its market presence.The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter or in early 2005.The agreement includes spectrum licenses in 62 markets in 14 western and mid-western states, covering a population of 30.8 million people. The transaction also includes Qwest Wireless' network switching centers, cell sites and related network equipment, which operate on the CDMA standard, the same as the Verizon Wireless network.Fifty-three of the licenses being purchased are in markets where Verizon Wireless already operates its network and will be used to expand capacity. The spectrum licenses also include several new markets for Verizon Wireless, including Rochester and St. Cloud, Minn.; Lincoln, Neb.; and Longview, Wash., and will expand the company's network footprint to an additional 1.5 million people.The definitive agreement does not include Qwest Wireless' subscriber base. It underscores Qwest's intention to be a mobile virtual network operator inside its 14-state region as well as outside of it; Qwest struck a five-year deal with Sprint PCS a year ago to provide nationwide coverage for its wireless customers.The deal also provides Qwest with some cash to improve its liquidity and reduce debt.