NetAmerica Alliance initiated an affiliate membership program that will let rural 700 MHz license holders join the group while keeping their options open for a future evolution to IMS.
The new affiliate membership lets enrollees purchase network equipment at the Alliance's preferred pricing, access the group's network monitoring services, use Alliance-developed best practices for network deployment and obtain help with project management.
However, carriers must upgrade to full membership in order to take advantages of services offered through the Alliance's IMS-Powered SuperCenter.
Carriers that won licenses in the lower 700 MHz band via Auction 73 are mandated to provide wireless service coverage in 35 percent of each license's geographic area by June 2013. The alliance said its new affiliate membership, which it refers to as a "license-saver program," will help carriers meet the deadline.
"We recognize that the immediate need is to provide coverage in the spirit of meeting FCC requirements associated with these licenses," said Scott Donlea, NetAmerica's COO. "However, we did not want the citizens of rural America or the carriers which serve them to sacrifice the future for expediency in the short term, or to forgo the opportunity of value-added services because they could not justify an investment in an IMS-powered network."
NetAmerica is an alliance of independent carriers that are collaborating to build out LTE. Members run networks in their own territories, while NetAmerica offers consolidated buying power, nationwide branding, marketing and training programs, a network operations center, key networking elements, applications development and nationwide roaming arrangements. The group's national service brand is Bonfire.
In February, Peoples Telephone Cooperative launched fixed LTE in rural Texas, becoming the first group member to switch on LTE service. Peoples shifted customers to the new network from its older WiMAX network.
- see this NetAmerica release
- see this Billing and OSS World article
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