West Central Wireless touts hosted LTE for rural operators

West Central Wireless, a subsidiary of the Central Texas Telephone Cooperative, is offering to let other rural operators piggyback services on its planned LTE network.

West Central will use Alcatel-Lucent's (NASDAQ:ALU) infrastructure in a new LTE network slated to launch late this year. The operator will initially offer LTE dongles, adding smartphones and tablet devices to its portfolio afterward.

West Central intends to sign network hosting agreements with other regional service providers. The company will open up part of its packet core network to these partner operators, enabling them to accelerate new services without investing in packet core networks of their own, said Alcatel-Lucent.

"West Central Wireless is a trusted provider of hosted services, having offered similar agreements for AMPS, TDMA, CDMA and GSM technologies," said Mike Higgins Jr., CEO of Central Texas Telephone Cooperative.

In 1987, West Central became the first cellular carrier between El Paso, Texas and Dallas to begin operations. The 200-employee company has retail and wholesale cellular and Internet operations in 27 contiguous counties throughout west central Texas.

Numerous rural operators are jumping onto the LTE bandwagon via various cost-saving programs.

For example, Alaska Communications and GCI this week agreed to pool their resources into a new firm, Alaska Wireless Network, which will jointly manage the two networks. Prior to that announcement, Standard & Poor's Rating Service's had noted that Alaska Communications has been facing financial challenges due to intense competition from GCI and other rivals as well as the higher capital spending it was dedicating to the buildout of its LTE network.

NetAmerica is an alliance of independent carriers that are collaborating to build out LTE. The group has initiated an affiliate membership program that will let rural 700 MHz license holders join the group while keeping their options open for a future evolution to IMS.

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), meanwhile, has been working with rural partners that want to offer LTE-based mobile services. Oklahoma-based Pioneer Cellular recently became the first Verizon Wireless LTE in Rural America participant to light up a commercial LTE network on Verizon's 700 MHz spectrum.

For more:
- see this Alcatel-Lucent release

Related articles:
Alaska Communications, GCI forge wireless network sharing pact
More telcos may stop giving before it hurts
Oregon cable operator pushes fixed LTE with free router giveaway
NetAmerica pitches 700 MHz 'license-saver'
NetAmerica Alliance brands 4G service 'Bonfire'
Peoples Telephone is first NetAmerica member to launch rural LTE

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