Rural operator associations welcome Verizon's LTE discussions

Those associations representing rural wireless operators are cautiously optimistic about Verizon Wireless' revelation that the operator is in discussions with a number of rural operators to license its 700 MHz LTE spectrum in a bid to build out its next-generation network.

Verizon is looking to license the spectrum to local operators for a small fee, and these operators would then sell the service. Either Verizon or the other carrier would be responsible for the network equipment. Verizon is also looking to strike data roaming deals with the carriers. No deals have been announced so far.

"While the concept of such a close collaboration between small and large carriers sounds promising, the history of Verizon is such that there is little track record to suggest anything will come of this proposal," the Rural Telecommunications Group, which represents carriers with fewer than 100,000 subscribers, said in a statement. 

RTG's general counsel Carrie Bennet told FierceWireless that its "members are anxious to get LTE deployed in 700 [MHz]. I think Verizon knows it's sitting on a lot of spectrum in a lot of rural areas that isn't being utilized." 

"I was a little surprised at the statement, because I have been in discussions with Verizon and other large carriers to try and find a common-sense, non-regulatory solution to data roaming, which would include 3G and 4G," Steve Berry, president of the Rural Cellular Association, told FierceWireless.

Berry also indicated some RCA members have been approached by Harbinger Capital Partners, a private-equity firm that wants to build a nationwide wholesale LTE network.

Verizon spokeswoman Nancy Stark told FierceWireless that Verizon has had talks with a number of rural operators over the past several months, and has also seen interest from rural operators since the Journal report. 

For more:
- see this FierceWireless article

Related articles:
Verizon considers licensing LTE spectrum to rural carriers
Verizon to launch LTE markets in Q4
RCA steps up as advocate for small carriers
Verizon breaks ground on LTE center
Verizon's Lynch: LTE on track for 2010 launch

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