Open Range Communications of Denver, Colorado recently received a $267 million broadband loan from the USDA’s RUS program for the build out of broadband in 500 rural communities. The loan proceeds were held up until the FCC acted on a request from Open Range’s spectrum partner, Globalstar. Globalstar asked the FCC to allow them to offer Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) services over their existing spectrum holdings. The FCC granted that request, clearing the way for Globalstar and Open Range to offer WiMAX services in those identified rural communities. “We expect our partner [Open Range] to initially deploy infrastructure in more than 500 rural communities with the ability to expand the relationship over the next six years to additional markets covering 50 million people or about 15% of the U.S. population,” said Jay Monroe, CEO and Chairman of Globalstar in a company statement.
WiMAX continues to empower a variety of telecompetitors in both urban and rural markets. The FCC’s recent approval of the Clearwire-Sprint XOHM venture opens the door to a true national WiMAX provider, with the capability to compete against both wireline and wireless broadband providers. Companies like DigitalBridge and Azulstar are doing the same in smaller and rural markets. Fairpoint also recently announced it intends to use WiMAX in some Northeastern rural markets. In its relatively short life, WiMAX is providing significant competitive fuel for the marketplace.