Aeronet Wireless Broadband, a provider of fixed broadband services to business customers in Puerto Rico, has been given access to 2.5GHz band wireless spectrum under a long-term lease transfer by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The company revealed that it will initially use the new frequencies to upgrade its backhaul and last mile access, for which it is currently testing high capacity Point-to-Point equipment from various vendors, whilst in 2013 it plans to begin deploying a 4G TD-LTE-Advanced network from scratch, ‘following the industry trend for higher capacity networks’. Aeronet currently provides broadband services including dedicated corporate connections and Metro Ethernet to businesses in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and in 2011 it completed a USD1.5 million network upgrade. TeleGeography notes that Aeronet has accessed its new spectrum via an FCC-approved ‘De Facto Transfer Lease’ from the licensee ‘Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez’, using frequencies previously allocated under the category ‘Educational Broadband Service.’
2.5GHz spectrum licences in Puerto Rico are also held by cellular operators AT&T and Sprint. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that ISP Islanet launched 2.5GHz WiMAX services on the island in 2006, but was subsequently taken over by Centennial, itself acquired in November 2009 by AT&T, which launched LTE in November 2011 in the 700MHz band, but has the potential to expand capacity with 2.5GHz bandwidth. WLAN network provider Advance Wireless Communications (AWC Telecom), owned by NextWave Wireless of the US, offloaded large tranches of its US and Puerto Rican AWS (including 2.5GHz) spectrum in July 2008 to companies including T-Mobile, although it did retain limited 2.5GHz frequencies. Sprint was the major recipient of NextWave’s Puerto Rican 2.5GHz spectrum, although it is preparing to launch LTE on the island in the coming weeks using 1900MHz frequencies. TeleGeography notes that Sprint is focusing on deploying 1900MHz FDD-based LTE services, to be supported by the majority of its user devices going forward, but plans to add 2.5GHz TDD capacity in due course, over which it will also implement LTE-Advanced capability, in conjunction with future 800MHz LTE/LTE-Advanced rollouts to expand coverage.