Peoples Telephone Cooperative has launched fixed LTE service in rural Texas, replacing its previous WMAX offering and setting the stage for future LTE launches by other independent operators that are members of the NetAmerica Alliance.
Peoples, a member of the NetAmerica Alliance since 2010, is the first group member to switch on LTE service. The initial turn-up of service moved over 200 residential users in eastern Texas from WiMAX to Peoples' new LTE network, which operating in the 700 MHz band.
"We needed to move from WiMax to 4G LTE in order to improve our service offering and to give us a path to the future," said Steven Steele, the operator's assistant general manager.
Peoples is relying upon NetAmerica's UniPort Home Gateway, a mobile broadband router supplied by Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), to deliver wired Ethernet and Wi-Fi within the home while connecting over broadband wireless to an outside LTE network.
In March 2011, Ericsson and NetAmerica announced they would work together to create economies of scale for independent local exchange carriers (ILECs) planning to use certain frequencies of the 700 MHz and AWS bands in rural markets. The deal with Ericsson called for the world's largest vendor to offer LTE radio functionality, evolved packet core, IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) and a family of LTE-centric home and small business gateways. In January 2012, the alliance announced it had completed installation of its SuperCenter, which houses both IMS as well as a network operations center (NOC).
NetAmerica has announced four ILEC members and hopes to attract more small operators that want to build out LTE service in their licensed coverage areas. Through the alliance, members gain collective buying power comparable to that of large carriers. The group is also providing its members with access to LTE devices such as the Ericsson home gateway and is giving participants back-office and other support to help them deploy services efficiently and effectively. NetAmerica has said its members could eventually offers the same prices and services nationwide.
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