Redzone, pushing ‘5G’ service, continues to expand in Maine

Redzone Wireless (Redzone)
Redzone is one of a growing number of service providers deploying fixed wireless technology to supply internet services to users. (Redzone)

Redzone, a fixed wireless provider promising speeds up to 100 Mbps, said it plans to expand its service into an additional 13 rural and underserved markets across Maine. The company has generated some attention in the space by being one of the first to use the term 5G to describe its services.

"Redzone Wireless remains on the forefront of fixed wireless broadband network innovation, and we have advanced the reliability, capacity and speed of our 5Gx technology substantially over the last year," said Jim McKenna, president of Redzone Wireless, in a release from the company. (The company’s release uses both 5Gx and 5G to describe Redzone’s services.) "We are confident in both our 5Gx network and the ability of our team to execute on this ambitious plan to bring improved broadband services to thousands of additional Maine households and businesses in 2018."

According to Telecompetitor, Redzone’s network covers 225,000 locations across 50 markets in Maine, and its latest expansion announcement will expand that number to 265,000 locations.

In responses to FierceWireless, the company said that it counts "thousands" of customers but didn't provide specifics. The company also said it leverages a number of vendors including Telrad, Ubiquity, Rukus, Dragonwave, Sikl and Nokia.

Redzone at the beginning of last year debuted the term “5Gx” to describe its fixed wireless network. The company at the time explained that its network technology combines both licensed LTE and unlicensed wireless broadband technologies on a single tower, integrating them with a proprietary operational support system. Redzone said the strategy maximizes bandwidth at each of its sites, thus serving more customers from each site at faster speeds than LTE alone can deliver.

The company added this week that "5Gx" is a trademark registered to the company. The company said that its network uses a proprietary multi-spectrum, carrier aggregating, MIMO capable, NLOS fixed wireless broadband standard "that is best described as '5G-Similar.'" Redzone added that the current 5G standard, recently approved by the 3GPP, "is not well-suited for deployment in low population/rural areas (and might never be)."

"Redzone's 5Gx is intended to ultimately deliver 1 Gbps FWA in rural markets," the company added.

As for the companys' specturm bands, Redzone said that its LTE service primarily runs on licensed 2.5 GHz EBS spectrum in Band 41, although the company added that it also uses 5.8 GHz, 11 GHz, 24 GHz and 60 GHz in line of site, backhaul, and commercial and enterprise applications.

Of course, Redzone isn’t the only company playing loose with the 5G term. For example, Arris’ Ruckus business recently applied the 5G brand to its combination of LTE and Wi-Fi, arguing the experience is the same as 5G. And AT&T last year applied the “5G Evolution” brand to some of its markets featuring technologies like 4x4 MIMO, arguing they put the operator in a better position to eventually upgrade to 5G technology.

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In other Redzone news, the company’s management confirmed Redzone will participate this year in the FCC's Connect America Fund and USDA's Community Connect grant program, programs designed to provide federal dollars to internet providers covering rural locations in the United States.

Redzone was also recently tapped by the city of Portland, Maine, to assist with the design and construction of the city’s public Wi-Fi network. That work coincides with Portland’s move to replace all of its street lights with LED technology.

Article updated April 5 with additional information from Redzone.