There has been a lot of news about 5G rollouts – and most of it is from the big nationwide carriers. A smaller rural carrier that is stepping up is Nex-Tech Wireless, which is deploying 5G across its key markets in Kansas. The company expects to launch 5G by the third quarter of the year.

Nex-Tech will use Ericsson’s 5G Evolved Packet Core and RAN enhancements supporting 5G new radio (NR) non-standalone technology. Nex-Tech also will use Ericsson’s Spectrum Sharing technology to optimize spectrum allocation. The companies said the platform will support new use cases through software updates.

“As we make the move to 5G, it is critical that we have a seamless experience,” said Nex-Tech President and CEO Jon Lightle in a press release. “Nex-Tech Wireless is excited to work with Ericsson to deliver that experience and to bring 5G capabilities to our customers in Kansas.”

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Nex-Tech Wireless is owned by Nex-Tech Inc./Rural Telephone, Golden Belt Telephone and Tri-County Telephone. The company provides services to more than 40 counties in central and western Kansas as well as four counties in Colorado. Nex-Tech and Ericsson made an announcement on 5G, VoLTE and WiFi calling last September.

The FCC aims to boost 5G availability in rural areas through the proposed Rural 5G Fund. Next month, the FCC is scheduled to vote on a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the $9 billion fund. Last week, the FCC released state-by-state data that revealed that as much as 67% of the U.S. landmass in 49 states and three territories may be eligible. The $9 billion in funding will be spread over a 10 year period.

The precise eligibility will be determined by which of two options the FCC chooses. The NPRM, if adopted, will ask whether to use current data sources to identify eligible areas or to wait until data is gathered and processed through the new Digital Opportunity Data Collection.

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