Two unidentified rural network operators participating in the Verizon Wireless LTE in Rural America program are set for commercial launches early next year, RCR Wireless is reporting. The media outlet apparently based the report on a conversation with Philip Junker, executive director of strategic alliances for Verizon Wireless.
The Verizon Wireless LTE in Rural America program enables rural operators to lease 4G LTE spectrum from Verizon in areas where Verizon does not have its own 3G network. The rural operators then can use the spectrum to build out their own LTE networks. To date, a dozen rural operators have signed on to participate in the program.
Participants will establish their own pricing plans, Junker told RCR Wireless—and the author speculated that some rural carriers might opt to offer unlimited data packages. An unlimited data plan certainly would enhance LTE’s appeal as a replacement for landline broadband—and as the RCR author noted, rural operators have access to Verizon’s entire 22 MHz of spectrum, which would position them well to make such an offering.
Verizon also is taking a “hands-off” approach toward LTE in Rural America participants with regard to mobile devices, RCR reports. Junker said rural operators were free to negotiate their own agreements with handset vendors. But that may not be viewed as a plus by rural operators, who may have hoped that they would be able to take advantage of Verizon’s buying power.
Nevertheless, program participants will have an edge over other rural operators that bought 4G spectrum in bands not used by large national carriers such as Verizon and AT&T because device makers are planning to have products available first for the larger carrier networks. Junker noted that rural operators would have access to exclusive devices a “short time” after they are launched by Verizon Wireless.
Although most of the companies participating in the LTE in Rural America program are incumbent rural telcos or rural wireless network operators, at least one participant has broken the mold. Competitive local exchange carrier Convergent Technologies also is one of the 12 carriers that have joined the program.