US satellite TV giant – and aspirant wireless market entrant – DISH Network has reportedly agreed a strategic deal with Virginia-based regional operator nTelos Wireless to co-develop a ‘fixed-mobile broadband service’ within nTelos’ existing footprint, namely: Virginia, West Virginia and portions of Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky. However, details relating to the specifics of the service remain unclear, with neither party willing to confirm when the service will launch, how much it will cost, what spectrum it will run on, or why the two companies opted to strike their deal now. Charlie Ergen, chairman and co-founder of DISH, commented: ‘We are pleased to team with nTelos on this exciting opportunity to leverage their mobile capabilities along with our technical service infrastructure to develop broadband services. With users consuming more data, the demand for fast, reliable Internet service remains stronger than ever, particularly in rural areas where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates nearly a fifth of American households lack broadband access. By working with nTelos, we believe we can create a service that simultaneously addresses the mobile and in-home requirements of rural residents, with the potential to serve as a model for how we can utilise spectrum more effectively while creating differentiated consumer offerings’.
The agreement represents the latest aspect of DISH’s attempt to secure a foothold in the US wireless market, with approaches for the likes of Sprint Nextel, Clearwire and LightSquared all currently under consideration. TeleGeography notes that nTelos is also the exclusive wholesale provider of PCS services to Sprint subscribers in nTelos’s western Virginia and West Virginia service areas, through a so-called ‘Strategic Network Alliance’ which is due to expire on 31 July 2015.