CenturyTel Inc. of Monroe, La., has announced it will acquire larger peer Embarq Corp. of Overland Park, Kan., in a deal valued at $5.8 billion.

CenturyTel Inc. of Monroe, La., has announced it will acquire larger peer Embarq Corp. of Overland Park, Kan., in a deal valued at $5.8 billion.

Embarq was spun off by Sprint in May 2006 and provides local exchange service in Butte Falls, Crater Lake, Diamond Lake, Eagle Point, Fish Lake, Prospect, Shady Cove and White City. The company has 18,000 employees and operates in 18 states. It also operates a call center with 280 employees in Medford.

Embarq spokesperson Vicky Soares said no changes are planned, pending approval of the deal.

"We are operating business as usual," Soares said. "There is a transition team putting plans in place."

The transaction is expected to close the second quarter of 2009.

The deal continues a trend of consolidation for traditional local phone service, which is shrinking as customers turn to cable companies or cell phones. The combined company would have about eight million lines in 33 states, mainly in rural areas.