Rural broadband is becoming a serious issue
, and it's not just the government taking notice. Private for-profit companies are as well, with Dish Network
and nTelos being the latest two. Following last month's announcement of their intent to co-develop a fixed wireless broadband service, Dish and nTelos have now deployed broadband service in rural Virginia using wireless spectrum in the 2.5 GHz range. Broadband service speeds at the initial test sites are ranging from 20 Mbps to more than 50 Mbps.
As part of the demonstration, nTelos and DISH have activated two wireless tower test sites in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Waynesboro and Afton, Va. Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent have provided equipment and assisted in the installation. In other words, we're seeing LTE in regions that barely have any access to data at all.
The trial differentiates itself from prior fixed broadband services by relying on professionally installed rooftop devices at customers' homes that are intended to deliver significant gain and throughput advantages over inside-the-home antenna solutions. DISH has deployed BandRich ruggedized outdoor routers with built-in high-gain antennas to receive the 2.5 GHz LTE signal.
"With nearly a fifth of American households underserved by broadband, a fixed wireless solution delivering true broadband speeds will bring improved broadband options to potentially millions of consumers," said Tom Cullen, DISH executive vice president of Corporate Development. "DISH has a nationwide workforce of professional technicians that can be dispatched to install both a satellite dish for our video service and an antenna for broadband on the same roof at the same time."
"nTelos is extremely encouraged by the level of progress we've achieved since announcing our co-development project with DISH less than three weeks ago. This has been a true team effort, bringing together the talents and expertise of various vendor partners to accelerate the completion of our LTE core and to design and install fixed broadband wireless technology within the nTelos footprint," noted James A. Hyde, CEO of NTELOS Holdings Corp. "We are excited to test this first of its kind offering, with an emphasis on further shrinking the service gap of underserved, rural communities. As we prove out the concept and refine the offering, we are confident this partnership will build value for all our stake holders."
DISH and nTelos have not disclosed details on the duration of the trial service or plans for expansion beyond the test sites, but we're sure hoping that this leads to commercial installs in the near future. More Internet for those in rural areas? Yep, we're behind that.