Oklahoma based Pioneer Cellular, one of the thirteen identified Verizon Wireless LTE in Rural America program partners, has conducted its first successful end-to-end 4G LTE data test. Pioneer and Verizon Wireless (VZW) report this is the first test in preparation for a spring 2012 launch of Pioneer’s 4G LTE services, using Verizon 700 MHz spectrum.
Pioneer first announced their participation in the program back in December 2010. The Verizon Rural 4G program pairs Verizon 700 MHz spectrum with rural service providers, who will build a 4G LTE network in markets where Verizon does not intend to extend coverage. Pioneer’s 4G LTE network covers more than 260,000 people in 21 counties across nearly 17,000 square miles of central and western Oklahoma
“Pioneer Cellular’s participation in the Verizon Wireless LTE in Rural America program will benefit our wireless customers as well as Verizon Wireless’ customers by accelerating the benefits of high-speed mobile broadband to rural areas where 4G LTE mobility is not available,” said Pioneer CEO Richard Ruhl.
Pioneer appears to be the furthest along, among the 13 rural partners. The program allows these partner carriers to build and operate their own LTE network, using some elements of the Verizon core network. Reciprocal roaming between Verizon and their partners is also an element of the program, although terms of these roaming deals are tightly held secrets. Details concerning other important issues like 4G LTE handset availability for partner carriers have not been publicly revealed.
Verizon reports their 13 rural partners collectively cover 2.6 million people across 85,000 square miles in 10 states. In addition to Pioneer Cellular, other program participants include include Appalachian Wireless, Chariton Valley, Custer Telephone, Carolina West Wireless, S and R Communications, Cellcom, Cross Wireless, Strata Networks, Thumb Cellular, and Convergence Technologies.