Ericsson wins deal to replace LTE gear for Viaero Wireless

Ericsson is upgrading more than 900 LTE sites, which will be outfitted with 5G-ready network equipment. (Getty Images)

Ericsson is providing new gear for regional U.S. telecom provider Viaero Wireless as the company swaps out and upgrades its LTE existing equipment.

Based in Fort Morgan, Colorado, the operator serves parts of Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Kansas with home broadband and mobility.

Ericsson is upgrading more than 900 LTE sites, which will be outfitted with 5G-ready network equipment. The deal spans existing core, radio access network (RAN), microwave and router equipment.

In the vendor’s announcement, Viaero founder and CEO Frank DiRico emphasized Ericsson’s turn-key approach.

“We needed a partner that could step up and provide a turn-key solution,” said DiRico in a statement. “The key to our success is providing the best possible service to our customers. In addition to Ericsson’s industry-leading products and solutions, we felt that Ericsson had the best team to make this project successful when looking at different technology options.”

RELATED: Mavenir swaps out Triangle’s Huawei gear for open RAN

According to Ericsson, Viaero is one of the largest regional carriers in the country, and implementing a cloud-native core and other products will help expand the operator’s footprint and assist bridging the digital divide.

Viaero Wireless celebrated the 30-year anniversary of its flagship store in Colorado this July, according to the Fort Morgan Times. Since forming in 1989, the carrier grew to around 70 stores and 1,000 cell towers, the report said.

In the U.S. some smaller rural and regional service providers are under a government mandate to remove and replace existing network equipment deemed a security risk, namely from Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE. Whether Viaero is using Ericsson to replace Huawei gear wasn't immediately clear and Fierce will update this article with any additional information. 

Leading network vendors including Ericsson and Nokia, alongside newer entrants like Mavenir, are all vying for a piece of the $1.9 billion FCC reimbursement program.

RELATED: Mavenir, Adtran, Nokia express interest in Huawei rip and replace program

As carriers look to replace network components, they need to decide fairly soon on technology as the reimbursement filing window is targeted to open October 29, 2021.

Steve Berry, president and CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), recently told Fierce that the organization has around 15 members that have identified rip and replace covered equipment in their networks.

Some, like Triangle Communications in Montana, are opting for open RAN technology. Mavenir is leading the project and supplying RAN and core upgrades. Nokia, meanwhile, notched a rip and replace contract to supply services and new RAN gear for Union Wireless’ cellular network. The project covers sites in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Idaho.

RELATED: Nokia scores rip and replace deal with Union Wireless

On Monday, Samsung announced a collaboration with t3 Broadband to help deliver 4G and 5G products, including CBRS RAN and core, for regional U.S. service providers delivering connectivity in remote and hard-to reach areas. 

As for Ericsson, the Swedish vendor continues to partner with regional providers.

“With their large footprint across the heart of the U.S., Viaero recognized the need for reliable 5G-ready networks to bring connectivity and digitization to businesses and consumers,” said Niklas Heuveldop, president and head of Ericsson North America, in a statement “We’re proud they’ve chosen Ericsson for this important work that will help bridge the digital divide and bring fast, reliable broadband service for all.”