The NetAmerica Alliance, an organization launched with the goal of helping rural network operators gain economies of scale in making 4G deployments, has added two new members—Peoples Telephone Cooperative of Quitman, Tex. and Etex Telephone Cooperative of Gilmer, Tex.
When NetAmerica was announced earlier this year, the organization said it had four rural carrier members representing 1 million pops.
NetAmerica’s goal is to give member rural network operators improved buying power, nationwide branding, 24/7 network monitoring, 4G core network elements and other services. In March the company announced a deal with Ericsson to supply LTE radio equipment and evolved packet core infrastructure for rural network operator members.
According to a NetAmerica press release issued today, Peoples Telephone was a holder of spectrum suitable for 4G services but Etex was not. Through what NetAmerica calls a “license development program” Etex obtained a spectrum license from Peoples.
“Part of the benefit of joining the alliance is the ability to work in partnership with other carriers who may own license rights in certain geographies, but may not be interested in developing those specific areas themselves,” said Danny Keller, general manager of Etex, in today’s announcement. “We acquired the license rights from Peoples and are now able to provide our customers advanced 4G services. It is a win-win for all those involved and it would not have been possible without NetAmerica.”
But it appears that Peoples retained some of its spectrum holdings because the company’s general manager Robbie Allen is quoted in the release saying, “We knew that it was imperative for us to have a 4G solution for our customers and NetAmerica was the only way to make that a reality,” said Allen. “There was no other way to gain the buying power, economies of scale or national reach without the alliance. The model and timing are a perfect fit.”
The two new participants will increase NetAmerica’s population coverage by 650,000 and increase geographical coverage by more than 7500 square miles.
NetAmerica is not the only organization working with rural network operators to deploy 4G. Verizon’s LTE in Rural America has some similar goals. That program is more restrictive, however, as Verizon is only interested in working with carriers serving areas where Verizon does not already have its own 3G network.