Sprint affiliate Shentel launches LTE service in 56 markets

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) regional affiliate Shenandoah Telecommunications confirmed that it launched LTE service in around 56 markets in the Mid-Atlantic, expanding Sprint's LTE footprint by roughly 735,000 POPs. Separately, Sprint confirmed that it launched LTE service in 11 more markets in the Northeast and Midwest, bringing the number of LTE markets it operates to 43.

Shentel COO Earle MacKenzie told FierceWireless that the company had launched its LTE service on Nov. 23 in areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Shentel is using Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ: ALU) network equipment for its deployment. Alcatel-Lucent is one the vendors for Sprint's Network Vision network modernization project. Shentel said in February it would launch LTE in its service area.

MacKenzie said that the carrier's initial deployment runs roughly from Harrisonburg, Va., up to Hagerstown, Md., along Interstate 81, and also includes the greater Harrisburg, Pa., area as well as Carlyle and Hershey, Pa. He said the deployment covers 25 percent of Shentel's cell sites and 35 percent of its 2.1 million customers.

MacKenzie said Shentel expects to complete its LTE deployment by the middle to latter part of 2013. Shentel sells Sprint-branded LTE devices and services, he said. "It's a significant amount of coverage," MacKenzie said. "We didn't want to bring it up until there was significant LTE service."

The news of Shentel deploying LTE was first reported by the blog S4GRU last week, citing an unnamed source.

Separately, Sprint said it now offers LTE service in Anderson, Muncie, and South Bend/Mishawaka, Ind.; Salina, Kan.; Peabody, Mass.; Hagerstown, Md.; Harrisburg/Carlisle/Hershey, Pa.; Harrisonburg, Shenandoah County and Winchester, Va.; and Clarke County, Va./Jefferson County and Martinsburg, W.Va. The carrier said coverage would continue to expand in these areas in the coming weeks and months.

In October Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer said that because of the company's delay in launching Network Vision sites, Sprint will not hit its previous LTE coverage target of 123 million POPs by the end of 2012, but will be close to it. 

Sprint is trying to catch up to Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) in terms of LTE coverage. Verizon's LTE network covers more than 250 million people and AT&T earlier this month hit its 2012 target of covering 150 million people.

For more:
- see this release
- see this S4GRU post

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Shenandoah Telecommunications Q3 revenue rises year-over-year to $72.9M

Read more: Shenandoah Telecommunications Q3 revenue rises year-over-year to $72.9M - FierceTelecom http://www.fiercetelecom.com/story/shenandoah-telecommunications-q3-revenue-rises-year-over-year-729m/2012-11-05#ixzz2DLCa0C7G
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