Dish and nTelos start testing fixed LTE broadband in rural Virginia

Dish has so far had to be content with offering broadband over its existing satellite network, but the company has made no secret of wanting a terrestrial service. The carrier can now do more than talk about those plans: it just launched a pilot LTE service in rural Virginia with nTelos' help. The test run supplies 2.5GHz wireless internet access to a handful of homes near Afton and Waynesboro, with speeds hovering at a respectable 20Mbps to 50Mbps. Neither provider is ready to talk about where the trial goes from here, although Dish is ambitious enough to see all of an underserved rural America as its potential customer base. We have a hunch that the company would like to pick up a little more spectrum before its dreams come true.

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DISH and nTelos launch fixed wireless broadband pilot

Providers utilize LTE, outdoor wireless antennas to deliver cable-like speeds in rural Virginia trial

WAYNESBORO, Va. and ENGLEWOOD, Colo., June 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Following last month's announcement of their intent to co-develop a fixed wireless broadband service, DISH (NASDAQ: DISH) and NTELOS Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: NTLS) 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.

"This trial delivers speeds several times faster to our home than the wireline service that we have been using," said Anthony Gingerich, Waynesboro resident and nTelos employee. "Streaming video is a very good experience through the fixed broadband connection and the overall Internet experience has improved for our family."

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.

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.

A video of the DISH-nTelos fixed wireless broadband pilot is available here http://about.dish.com/video/fixed-wireless-broadband-pilot.

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Dish and nTelos start testing fixed LTE broadband in rural Virginia (video)