rural wireless tower

Resound Networks is seeing speeds of 1 Gbps downstream per customer over distances of five miles using fixed wireless equipment in rural deployments in the 5 GHz band, said Resound Networks CEO Tyson Curtis in an interview with Telecompetitor.

To achieve this performance, the company has been deploying equipment from Tarana Wireless for about seven to eight months, Curtis said, adding “we usually open four to five markets a month.”

The company has connected as many as 100 locations to a single Tarana access point, Curtis said. The spectrum that Resound uses is available on an unlicensed basis and, although it can be somewhat noisy in some areas, Curtis said Tarana has noise mitigation technology that mitigates interference.

RDOF Implications

The news about the Resound deployments comes at a time when the broadband industry has been hotly debating the viability of gigabit fixed wireless in rural areas.

It’s an important topic because Resound and other companies were tentatively and collectively awarded billions of dollars in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction to cover some of the costs of deploying gigabit service to unserved rural areas using a mixture of fixed wireless and fiber technology.

Resound was one of the biggest winning bidders in the auction. The company is slated to receive $311 million in RDOF funding for deployments in several states, although funding has not yet been released to the company.

A year after the auction, the majority of RDOF funding has not been approved for dispersal. The commission has been taking its time in making approvals, as the ability of some winning bidders to deliver on commitments has come into question for a variety of reasons, including whether fixed wireless is a viable means of delivering gigabit-speed service in rural areas.

Resound Network’s experiences suggest that it can. The company said it is seeing upstream speeds of 500 Mbps, which is sufficient to meet RDOF requirements.

According to Curtis, Resound uses fiber backhaul for about half of its access points and uses microwave backhaul for the rest.

Customers will pay about $129 monthly for gigabit service, he said.

Resound Networks was founded in 2015 and focuses exclusively on rural areas, which are served primarily with fixed wireless, although the company also does some fiber builds.

The company currently serves parts of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, and was tentatively awarded RDOF funding for areas in those states and in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, and Kansas.

Like most fixed wireless providers, Resound doesn’t rely solely on one equipment provider. The company also uses equipment from Cambium and Adtran, depending on factors such as population density.

He noted that Resound is testing Cambium equipment in the 6 GHz band using an experimental license and is seeing gigabit speeds over distances of three miles. Adtran also claims gigabit speeds for its fixed wireless offering that operates in the millimeter wave band and uses a mesh approach to extend range.

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