Appalachian Wireless will deploy a 5G SA network using Ericsson gear

Rural wireless operator Appalachian Wireless will deploy a cloud-native dual-mode standalone 5G  (SA) network that also supports 4G.

Mike Johnson, Assistant CEO of Appalachian Wireless, said that the first phase of the company’s 5G deployment will be in its low-band 600 MHz spectrum. However, the company is also looking at other options such as repurposing its 800 MHz spectrum and also deploying 5G in its mid-band spectrum. Appalachian Wireless’ web site says that it plans to decommission its 3G network by year-end.

Appalachian Wireless, which is also known as East Kentucky Network, participated in the FCC’s 3.45 GHz spectrum auction (Auction 110) and acquired two spectrum licenses for $4.34 million and the FCC’s C-band auction (Auction 107) and acquired one license for $7.4 million.

The company’s decision to initially rollout using its low-band spectrum isn’t surprising. Appalachian Wireless CEO Allen Gillum said during a FierceWireless Executive Panel on 5G at the Competitive Carriers Association’s Mobile Carriers Show last April that the company was planning to deploy 5G in its low-band spectrum and “mirror” its LTE coverage. Gillum also said that the company had some millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum in addition to its mid-band spectrum holdings.

Appalachian Wireless will use Ericsson’s container-based dual-mode 5G core and its 5G RAN for the SA network. In addition, the company will replace its existing 4G network equipment with Ericsson’s gear and build a dual-mode core network for 4G and 5G.  The goal, the company said, is to be able to future-proof its network and deliver advanced services to its customers, many of which reside in rural eastern Kentucky.

 5G deployments by rural operators will be a hot topic of discussion during this week’s Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) annual show in Portland, Oregon. FierceWireless will be hosting a breakfast at the conference on “Mobile Meets Fixed: How 5G Fixed Wireless Traffic Will Grow Alongside Mobile.”