Wireless TowerSprint’s rural LTE plans are gaining momentum, as an announcement today from Alcatel-Lucent illustrates.

Earlier this year, nTelos said it would expand its LTE network in West Virginia and western Virginia to specifications aligned with Sprint’s own network modernization program. And those plans seem to be moving forward, as Alcatel-Lucent said today that it will provide a wide range of equipment for the nTelos LTE network expansion.

According to today’s release, nTelos will be using Sprint’s 1900 MHz, 800 MHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum for the network expansion. That should give nTelos the ability to offer a range of advanced wireless capabilities developed by Sprint – such as tri-band devices that use whichever frequency will provide the best performance based on factors such as location and application.

For Sprint, the deal eliminates the need to build out the area where nTelos is building, helping to minimize network construction costs and enabling Sprint to gain coverage more quickly.

Sprint Rural Plans
Sprint has been formally pursuing that approach since earlier this year, when it announced partnerships with the Competitive Carriers Association and NetAmerica aimed at bringing LTE to rural America.

The CCA partnership gives CCA members access to a Sprint device ecosystem and to roaming agreements with Sprint.

The NetAmerica agreement establishes the Small Market Alliance for Rural Transformation (SMART) that will give rural network operators the ability to lease Sprint spectrum for LTE build-outs conforming to Sprint’s specifications.

nTelos and Sprint have a long history of working together in West Virginia and western Virginia, so it’s not surprising that nTelos is one of the first network operators to buy in on Sprint’s rural vision. It will be interesting to see how many carriers opt to participate in the Sprint rural LTE program, both through CCA and NetAmerica.

Verizon has had significant success with a similar program called LTE in Rural America.

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