Verizon Wireless expects a total of six of its ‘Long Term Evolution (LTE) in Rural America’ programme partners to offer commercial services by the end of the year, Fierce Wireless reports. In May 2010, prior to its commercial 4G launch, Verizon revealed that it was looking to partner with an unspecified number of rural operators in an effort to speed up its LTE deployments. The cellco planned to lease pockets of its 700MHz spectrum to rural carriers so that they can roll out next generation networks of their own, over which Verizon will have roaming rights. Earlier this year Oklahoma-based Pioneer Cellular and Wisconsin-based Cellcom became the first two carriers to launch commercial services through the scheme, while another four as-yet-unnamed cellcos are expected to launch by year-end.
In an interview, Philip Junker, the head of the LTE in Rural America programme, said that the company expects to add more rural carrier members in the months ahead, while conceding that the number of new partners may slow down as time progresses and ‘we add more participants [and] eat into that part of the country’. Suffice to say, in order to participate, carriers need to operate in areas ‘substantially’ outside of Verizon’s existing LTE footprint. ‘We have many carriers in the pipeline’ Junker added.
The 17 companies participating in the programme are: Bluegrass Cellular; Cross Telephone; Pioneer Cellular; Cellcom; Thumb Cellular; Strata Networks; S and R Communications; Carolina West; Custer Telephone Cooperative; Convergence Technologies; Chariton Valley Communication Corporation; Appalachian Wireless; Northwest Missouri Cellular; Chat Mobility; Matanuska Telephone Association; Sagebrush Cellular; and Copper Valley Telecom.