Verizon in talks with rural operators for LTE spectrum deals

In a bid to expand the reach of its LTE network, Verizon Wireless is talking to a number of rural mobile operators about using its 700 MHz spectrum.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam discussed the possibility of granting rural operators access to its spectrum through a licensing deal; Verizon then would create data roaming agreements with these operators. Either Verizon or the rural operator would be responsible for the network equipment.

Verizon has plans to launch 25 to 30 commercial LTE markets in the fourth quarter, covering 100 million POPs. Its goal is to deploy LTE across its entire 3G footprint by the end of 2013.  

"These rural markets would take us a while to get to," McAdam said. He said Verizon doesn't expect to make a lot of money on the deals, but that the goal would be to more quickly expand its LTE footprint.

The deals could be a coup for rural operators increasingly discontent over handset exclusivities for larger operators and the lack of a requirement for data roaming deals. The FCC currently is studying whether to make data roaming mandatory. With the prospect of guaranteed roaming revenues from Verizon Wireless, LTE could bring a solid business case to rural markets.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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