Verizon Wireless expects a total of six of its rural LTE program partners to offer commercial service by the end of the year.
Verizon announced its LRA initiative in June 2010. Under the program, Verizon shares access to its 700 MHz Upper C Block (band 13 700 MHz) spectrum with rural operators, who use their tower and backhaul assets to build an LTE network and market the LTE service under their own brands. Earlier this spring Oklahoma-based Pioneer Cellular and Wisconsin-based Cellcom became the first two carriers to launch commercial service under the program. Junker said Verizon expects four more by year-end, though he declined to name them.
Junker said that the program allows Verizon to have rural areas without the need for direct investment. The 17 carriers in the program cover 2.7 million POPs over 144,000 square-miles, for a density of 19 people covered per square mile.