The newest Verizon LTE in Rural America partner, Convergence Technologies Inc (CTI), is the first non-traditional rural telco or rural wireless carrier to join the program. The move indicates Verizon is open to partnering with different kinds of companies to expand their rural 4G footprint, not just traditional rural wireless companies and rural telcos.
CTI is a unique company. They operate a wireline and fixed wireless CLEC operation through small town and rural Indiana and Illionois. But they also are involved in a variety of other businesses, including a payment processing service called IP Pay.
Their CLEC provides broadband network services to over 3,500 current business customers. “4G mobile broadband represents the logical next evolution of CTI’s business strategy,” a press release announced.
Like all Verizon rural LTE partners, CTI will lease 700 Mhz spectrum to build a rural 4G LTE network in rural areas of Indiana where Verizon does not plan to operate. CTI plans to “…leverage portions of CTI’s recent $18 million Broadband Stimulus Project to bring advanced 4G wireless services to underserved rural communities throughout Illinois and Indiana.” They will operate this network within the IN-5 Cellular Market Area, covering over 750,000 POPs across Illinois and Indiana.
They also intend to leverage their IP Pay product line with this 4G network. “CTI plans to capitalizing on this by combining its 4G mobile carrier assets with its IP Pay payments platform, currently processing over $500 million in annual volume, to develop a mobile payments solution to address a market projected to exceed $280 billion in North America by 2014,” says CTI CEO Charles Wu in a press release.
All previous Verizon Rural LTE partners were either traditional rural wireless providers or telcos (or affiliated with them). That list includes Custer Telephone, Carolina West Wireless, S and R Communications, Bluegrass Cellular, Cellcom, Cross Wireless, Pioneer Cellular, Strata Networks and Thumb Cellular. CTI makes the tenth partner to join the program, and from my perspective, the most interesting, to date anyway.