NetAmerica Alliance, the association of rural operators which formed last year to give smaller companies the economies of scale needed to roll out Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks within their respective operational footprints, has announced that it has launched a new programme to help mobile carriers that purchased 700MHz spectrum in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Auction 73 to meet build-out requirements; the terms associated with these licences mandate that carriers which acquired spectrum in the lower 700MHz band provide wireless service coverage in 35% of the licence’s geographic area by June 2013. The programme allows 700MHz licence holders to join the Alliance as a so-called ‘Affiliate Members’, which NetAmerica says allows participating companies ‘to meet today’s demand for build-out with full confidence that they are not compromising the future of their networks, the future of their customers, or eliminating themselves from a migration to high-value, revenue generating applications’. However, it is unclear how an Affiliate Member’s status differs from that of a full member.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, NetAmerica’s first LTE affiliate, Texas-based Peoples Telephone Cooperative, inaugurated its 4G network in mid-February, utilising spectrum in the 700MHz frequency band. In March, a second company, Panhandle Telephone Cooperative Inc (PTCI), which is headquartered in Guymon, Oklahoma, announced that it was poised to launch LTE services in rural Oklahoma under the ‘Bonfire’ brand.