Succeeding in the wireless business requires scale. That’s one of the reasons why AT&T is scooping up T-Mobile. In a world of those national behemoths, small rural and regional wireless carriers are at a distinct disadvantage. NetAmerica hopes to change that.

NetAmerica has been percolating for a couple years, first as an incubative idea within CHR Solutions and now as a standalone entity. They are using this week’s CTIA show to formally unveil their plans.

NetAmerica is partnering with Ericsson for rural 4G LTE technology and aims to offer their rural wireless partners “…business and network services including combined buying power, nationwide branding, 24×7 network monitoring, 4G core networking elements, applications development and other key services needed to build the converged network of the future.”

In simple terms, it’s a wireless aggregation play, where rural carriers with spectrum, both AWS and 700 MHz, come together and collectively try to compete with larger national and regional carriers. “It’s somewhat analogous to the CellularOne model of old,” Rick Overman, Executive Vice President, Alliance Development of NetAmerica tells me.

CellularOne was a common brand for separate wireless carriers and had much success in the earlier days of wireless service. NetAmerica hopes to take that model up a notch, by also providing a portfolio of technical and operational services to its partners. They have 3 confirmed wireless carriers “covering about a million POPs,” Overman tells me. He’s quite busy trying to secure more partners, of which he says 60 or so are engaged in discussions with NetAmerica.

The concept is certainly not a new idea. There have been a variety of rural carrier consortiums focused on many different business lines, wireless among them. Anyone remember Crossroads Wireless? NetAmerica thinks the mobile broadband component of 4G is what sets this latest attempt of wireless aggregation apart, suggesting that only aggregated scale can make the mobile broadband business model work for rural markets. We’ll soon find out.

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