The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Verizon Wireless is in talks with rural wireless operators to expand its 4G network to consumers in non-urban areas. Verizon is currently building a Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless network using USD4.7 billion worth of spectrum it acquired in the Federal Communication Commission’s 700MHz auction in 2008. The firm hopes to have 4G networks in operation in 25 to 30 markets by the end of this year. Verizon is now also believed to be considering licensing spectrum to local carriers for a small fee, which would then resell the 4G service to their customers. It is not clear whether Verizon or the local cellcos would install the equipment in the rural regions, but The Wall Street Journal indicated this would be worked out in individual contracts.
A year ago Verizon executives promised to cover rural America with 4G. Tony Melone, senior vice president and chief technology officer for Verizon Wireless, told CNET that Verizon’s 4G network would blanket the entire continental United States, including the far corners of rural America. ‘The licences we bought in the 700MHz auction cover the whole US and we plan to roll out LTE throughout the entire country, including places where we don’t offer our CDMA cell phone service today.’