PdvWireless, the company that is urging the Federal Communications Commission to allow broadband services in the 900 MHz band, is rebranding itself as Anterix. The name change represents the company’s pivot toward focusing solely on serving the broadband needs of critical infrastructure and enterprise segments, including utility and industrial IoT use cases.
Founded in 2004, Anterix was created by the founders of Nextel Communications. It acquired Sprint’s 900 MHz spectrum in 2014, which made it the largest holder with a nationwide footprint of licenses in the band. Many of the licensees in the 900 MHz band are critical infrastructure entities such as utilities and energy companies.
The company initially focused on two-way radio systems using the 900 MHz spectrum but decided to pivot the brand toward private LTE in the 900 MHz band about a year ago. “As we identified the really strong need for broadband in these critical infrastructure and enterprise segments, we realized that this is what we needed to focus on,” Rob Schwartz, president and COO of Anterix, told FierceWirelessTech.
Anterix has already acquired experimental licenses from the FCC to use the spectrum in private LTE network pilots. It is engaged in a handful of trials now with customers, including projects with the utility Ameren in Illinois and Missouri, and the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).
But, before it can begin offering commercial services, the company needs the FCC to realign part of the 900 MHz band to support broadband. Anterix has actually been pushing for the realignment since 2014. The company has proposed sub-dividing the band to accommodate a 3 x 3 MHz broadband segment, and creating Private Enterprise Broadband (PEBB) allocation, which would entail a 240 channel license issued on an SMR geographic basis.
The proposal would require current licensees to realign their frequencies to a narrowband segment in the band. Schwartz described that process as “relatively non-invasive.”
“The FCC proposal is moving [incumbents] from one place in the 900 MHz band to someplace else in the 900 MHz band. It’s really tuning the radios they already have, versus replacing the radios,” he said.
After opening a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on restructuring the band earlier this year, the FCC is poised to make a decision on Anterix’s proposal.
“No one knows precisely, but we have good odds to be completed by the end of the year,” Schwartz said. After the FCC decision, the company believes the process of retuning incumbents will happen in a relatively short time frame.
“We’ve actually already preemptively done that with a number of incumbents, some of them are large utilities,” he said. “Here we only have hundreds of systems, and really there’s only about 60 large systems. We think over a three-year period we’ll be able to complete the retuning.”