DISH Network’s High-Speed Wireless Plans Gain FCC Approval

The FCC has approved DISH Network’s request to adapt its satellite spectrum for wireless use. DISH had asked for an FCC waiver that would allow the company to use 40 MHz of spectrum in the 2 GHz band for a 4G LTE network.

“The FCC has removed outdated regulations and granted territorial flexibility for most of the AWS-4 band,” said DISH senior vice president and deputy general counsel Jeff Blum. “We appreciate the hard work and focus of the FCC and its staff throughout this process. The commission has taken an important step toward facilitating wireless competition and innovation, and fulfilling the goals of the National Broadband Plan.”

While the commission announced its approval of DISH Network’s request for wireless spectrum use, certain as-yet unspecified restrictions will apply. The commission has previously said that there need to be limits on DISH’s network in order to prevent interference problems. Consequently, DISH seems committed to proceeding with caution. “Following a more thorough review of the order and its technical details, DISH will consider its strategic options and the optimal approach to put this spectrum to use for the benefit of consumers,” Blum said.  Among these options is a potential partnership with a wireless partner, such as Sprint or AT&T. In fact, DISH and Sprint have reportedly already held talks to discuss such a joint venture.

VZW Partners Launch Rural LTE Service

Bluegrass Cellular and STRATA Networks, two participants in Verizon’s LTE in Rural America Program, recently announced that they have launched commercial services. In addition, Verizon Wireless announced that it has  added another participant to the rural program: MTPCS, LLC, d.b.a. Cellular One.

On November 5, Bluegrass Cellular launched its 4G LTE network in Kentucky through its participation in Verizon’s program. The service is now available to more than 348,000 people in the operator’s largest markets including Fort Knox and the I-65 corridor between Louisville, Ken., and Nashville, Tenn. Other Kentucky counties and communities included in the initial 4G LTE network rollout include: Read more

Wireless Carriers Expanding LTE Service

Two major wireless carriers this week announced plans to expend 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage in the United States.  Both U.S. Cellular and T-Mobile said that they are extending the high-speed network.

U.S. Cellular announced that it is expanding its LTE coverage area to more than 30 new markets, extending its footprint to more than half of its customers. Its rollout will bring LTE to cities in Iowa, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Oklahoma and parts of Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.  Another wave of market launches are scheduled for Rockford, Ill., Medford, Ore., Yakima, Wash., and Knoxville, Tenn.  The company stated that by the end of the year, 58% of U.S. Cellular’s customers will have access to 4G speeds.

T-Mobile plans to have LTE in major metropolitan areas in 2013 and complete its rollout in 2014.  The operator reports that it has been testing LTE-Advanced (Release 10) technology for its network this summer. T-Mobile is currently seeking regulatory approval for its merger with MetroPCS.

T-Mobile and MetroPCS Announce Merger Agreement, Sprint to Counter?

One day after confirming that merger discussions were underway, T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom and MetroPCS announced in an October 3 press release that they have signed a definitive agreement to merge the companies.

The combined company will retain the T-Mobile name and have at its disposal deeper technological and financial resources to compete with other U.S. wireless carriers. Based on consensus estimates by analysts cited by T-Mobile, the combined company is predicted to serve approximately 42.5 million subscribers and realize $24.8 billion in revenue.

Once the merger has closed, the combined company will represent a stronger national competitor, with enhanced network coverage and a larger next-generation network, providing a path to 20×20 Mbps 4G long term evolution (LTE) in many areas. Read more

Dish Takes Aim at Unconnected Rural Americans

In a September 27 press release, Dish, the nation’s second largest direct satellite program distributor, announced an expansion to its services. Beginning October 1, Dish will begin offering dishNET a satellite-delivered broadband service aimed at the urban fringe and rural customers that may be having difficulty in obtaining wireline broadband services.

The release indicates that dishNET will enable 4G equivalent speeds, and, as a result, its service will be approximately 50% faster than typical residential broadband connections.

“Today we are launching a revolutionary consumer broadband service that delivers high-speed Internet available in metropolitan areas to rural markets nationwide,” said Joseph Clayton, Dish’s CEO. With nearly one-in-four rural residents lacking a high-speed connection, reaching these underserved markets is vital. Our mission is to provide broadband at an outstanding value with fast speeds and large data plans.” Read more

Six ‘LTE in Rural America’ Partners to be Operational by Year-End

Verizon Wireless announced the start of the second annual meeting of participants in the operator’s LTE in Rural America (LRA) program in a September 18 article on its website. Touting the fact that two of the participating carriers already have launched service, Verizon indicated that an additional four companies are expected to be operational by year-end.

The September 19 meeting, held at the Verizon Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass., was expected to include representatives from 16 of the 17 participating companies. In an article in FierceWireless on September 18, Verizon’s Executive Director of Strategic Alliances Philip Junker said, “We have carriers in the pipeline. We expect to sign more carriers up.” LRA began in June 2010 as a means to accelerate the rollout and adoption of 4G long term evolution (LTE) in rural America. Cellcom in Wisconsin and Pioneer Cellular in Oklahoma launched their respective services earlier this year. Participants in the program share access to Verizon’s 700 MHz Upper C-Block spectrum. They then use their own towers and backhaul assets to configure a local LTE network branded under their company name. Read more

Sprint’s 4G LTE Network Expansion Continues

Sprint announced in a September 10 press release that its aggressive 4G network expansion is underway. One hundred cities will soon join Sprint’s 4G service in the operator’s existing 3G footprint. In the coming months, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Miami will join cities like Nashville, Charlotte, Indianapolis and Memphis with top-tier network capabilities, enhancing Sprint’s wireless experience for its customers.

“We are committed to delivering a cutting-edge network as quickly as possible, one that provides a greater level of reliability and speed to our 3G and 4G customers,” said Bob Azzi, senior vice president Network, Sprint. “We know our customers depend on their mobile devices as their primary source of communication, business connectivity and entertainment. We want to deliver a network that delivers mobile access, productivity and entertainment at a highly competitive price point.” Read more

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