The NetAmerica Alliance announced another partner win, with Panhandle Telephone of Oklahoma joining the rural 4G LTE alliance. Panhandle, based in Guymon, Oklahoma operates as PTCI, and is a large telephone cooperative offering triple play services, but also operates an existing CDMA based wireless network throughout rural portions of Oklahoma and Texas.
“NetAmerica was formed and put into operation at precisely the right time for rural America,” said Ron Strecker, CEO of Panhandle Telephone Cooperative in a NetAmerica press release. “The promise 4G LTE holds for our rural customers and the positive economic and lifestyle changes that broadband mobility will bring to our communities is exciting. Panhandle Telephone recognized immediately that joining the alliance was the key for us to control our destiny, maintain our independence, and leverage our investment in 700MHz spectrum while continuing to serve our customers.”
Strecker tells me they are interested in looking at 4G LTE not just for mobile broadband, but also for fixed wireless services to rural homes in areas in lieu of wireline. “Our 4G LTE investment will serve a two fold purpose,” says Strecker. PTCI has already begun building out this 4G network and Strecker hopes to have it “…operational by December 31, 2011.”
NetAmerica is busily building a network of rural wireless providers for their 4G alliance. They recently announced partners in Texas and informed me that they have several additional partners in the pipeline, to be announced soon. NetAmerica will add 30K POPs with PTCI’s 700 MHz spectrum coverage.
NetAmerica hopes to build an alliance of rural 4G carriers and offer them “…business and network services including combined buying power, nationwide branding, 24/7 network monitoring, 4G core network elements, applications development and other key services needed to build the converged network of the future.” They’ve partnered with Ericsson to help deliver these network services.
The obvious goal here is scale, which is critical for success in 4G (and wireless in general). NetAmerica is trying to assemble as many rural wireless carriers who have 700 MHz or AWS spectrum as possible, in the hopes of building a ‘quasi’ national rural focused 4G LTE carrier. Strecker is all in on the concept, telling me, “If we don’t come together collectively, than we’ll each hang individually.”
One thought on “NetAmerica Lands Panhandle for 4G LTE”
The Oklahoma panhandle is a largely unpopulated or very sparsely populated land area with population centered in just two towns, the largest being Guymon with around 12,000 people. Most other towns have 100-500 population at most. And yet PTCI has been very effective at bringing up to date communications to the few residents of this area. Through roaming agreements with Verizon the entire area has Verizon 3G service, while the much more highly populated areas of northwestern Oklahoma to the east do not, because the CDMA operator there, Pioneer Cellular, has roaming agreements with Sprint and not Verizon. This is odd since Pioneer has signed up with Verizon's LTE in Rural America program but will not allow Verizon customers to roam on their 3G system.