Windstream said today that it has 102 fixed wireless sites operational in 26 Iowa markets, with plans for more than 100 more in the state. Windstream fixed wireless provides speeds of up to 100 Mbps, the company said. The deployments were made possible, in part, by funding that the company obtained through the Connect America Fund (CAF) program.

The CAF program covers some of the costs of bringing high-speed broadband to rural areas lacking that service. Fixed wireless offers a less costly alternative to deploying fiber-to-the-home to support high-speed service and, according to Windstream President and CEO Tony Thomas, fixed wireless supports faster speeds than alternatives that rely on copper wiring. Thomas told investors recently that he sees copper becoming “irrelevant” in the future.

Windstream Fixed Wireless
Windstream is so enthusiastic about fixed wireless that the company spent $26.6 million in the recent auction of millimeter wave spectrum in the 24 GHz and 28 GHz bands. In today’s press release, Windstream notes that the spectrum covers 5 million households and “paves the way for gigabit internet service over fixed wireless infrastructure.”

While millimeter-wave bands support shorter coverage range in comparison with lower-frequency spectrum bands, Thomas said that’s less of a concern in areas with a relatively flat topology such as the state of Iowa. He also noted that Windstream has deployed large amounts of fiber that could be used for backhaul throughout the state.

Windstream’s interest and affection for fixed wireless also may be impacted by it’s ongoing negotiations with Uniti, since fixed wireless assets aren’t subject to the network lease agreement with Uniti. That lease agreement is now subject to renegotiation, thanks to Windstream’s ongoing bankruptcy case.

A Human Face on Fixed Wireless
The need for high-speed rural broadband has gained considerable attention over the last year or so, with policymakers and service providers touting the benefits that the service can provide. Windstream used today’s press release to put a human face on these arguments by citing the specific example of Shari Vanden Heuvel, a customer who was able to move to her dream home on 80 acres in rural Iowa because Windstream was able to provide broadband there using fixed wireless.

Vanden Heuvel wanted to go into semi-retirement and work from home, but her employer would only allow her to do that if she could get high-speed broadband at home. Initially, such service wasn’t available but was made possible by Windstream’s investment and the Connect America Fund, Windstream noted in the press release.

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One thought on “Windstream Outlines Fixed Wireless Efforts in Iowa, Highlights Growing Interest in Expanding Wireless Broadband

  1. Pioneer Cellular has been offering a cellular-based fixed wireless service in their Oklahoma and Kansas service areas for several years now. It works well, although nowhere near 100 Mbps, it's more like 10 Mbps at its best. That is still far better than the pitiful DSL service they had been providing their rural customers. Pioneer has been in the process of completely ripping out their DSL equipment in favor of fixed wireless going forward.

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