Alaska Communications plans to launch Alaska's first LTE network

Alaska Communications, the dominant wireless provider in Alaska, said it will spend about $20 million to deploy LTE service in the state, making it the first operator to offer LTE in Alaska.

The company, which has about 116,000 subscribers (out of a total population of 710,000), said it will deploy LTE in a phased manner throughout its footprint. Company spokeswoman Heather Cavanaugh said the company will release more details in the coming months. Cavanaugh said the company is in the final stages of vendor selection for the core elements of the network.

Alaska Communications plans to spend $20 million in LTE deployment costs, which is on top of previously announced plans to spend $12 million in building the necessary backhaul infrastructure for LTE. The company intends to fund the investment largely via cash from operations and existing cash reserves.

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), which currently has the largest LTE footprint in the U.S., filed an application with the FCC in August 2010 to acquire the 700 MHz C Block spectrum license covering Alaska from Triad, a designated entity that purchased the license during the FCC's 700 MHz spectrum auction in 2008. Triad paid around $1.8 million for the license.

Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said there is no timetable for when the company will deploy LTE in Alaska, and did not dispute Alaska Communications' claim to be the first to deploy LTE in the state. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) will launch LTE service in its first five markets--Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio--sometime this summer. AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel declined to comment on when the carrier will launch LTE in Alaska.  

For more:
- see this release

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