Stelera Wireless, a new Oklahoma City, OK based wireless provider, has launched service in Floresville & Poth, Texas. Stelera is one of the first companies to launch service using the recently auctioned advanced wireless service (AWS) spectrum. Stelera claims their network can offer up to 7.2 Mbps download and up to 2 Mbps upload speeds. AWS operates in the 2.1 GHz and 1.7 GHz bands. Stelera has 42, mostly rural, markets with AWS spectrum and intends to slowly roll out service across their footprint.
Stelera joins DigitalBridge Communications who are also targeting rural markets, but with a WiMAX play in the 2.3 GHz spectrum bands. DigitalBridge has launched service in several rural markets in Idaho, Montana, and Indiana. Other pending rural wireless plays include Crossroads Wireless and Open Range. All of these companies are targeting “underserved” rural markets with a broadband alternative. Underserved generally is a code word for markets served by large RBOCs and/or MSOs who have not invested in local broadband networks. These markets are often identified as a part of the “digital divide.” DigitalBridge says they have reached 10% penetration within 6 months of one their first market entries, Rexburg, ID. These growing rural deployments are leveraging quickly evolving broadband wireless technology and pent up demand for broadband in markets where little or no broadband competition exists. This trend will definitely continue. There is certainly no guarantee of success. These new companies will have to prove their business case and execute well.