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Sprint, Dish Network Partner on Fixed Mobile Broadband Service

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 10:45am
Ben Munson

Sprint and Dish Network have announced a partnership to test out a fixed mobile broadband service.

The service trial will kick off by middle of 2014 and will be limited to Corpus Christi, Texas initially. Dish will be installing either outdoor routers or indoor units for customers who want to take advantage of the TDD-LTE airwaves riding on Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum. The companies plan to expand into other markets after that.

The trial involving Sprint follows a similar trial service Dish deployed earlier this year with regional carrier nTelos. In June, Dish indicated the nTelos trial demonstrated to the FCC what the satellite TV provider could accomplish with 2.5 GHz spectrum.

At the time, Dish and Sprint were engaged in a bidding war for broadband wholesaler Clearwire, whose vast holdings of 2.5 GHz spectrum licenses was the prize. Sprint eventually won out with a bid of $5 per share for the half of Clearwire it didn’t already own. Sprint has since begun boosting the speed and capacity of its LTE network using the 2.5 GHz spectrum in addition to its recently repurposed 800 MHz airwaves and its ongoing LTE deployment in the 1900 PCS band.

Initial tests of the nTelos, Dish fixed mobile broadband solution yielded speeds of around 20-50 Mbps. In October, the companies announced the trial would be expanding and indicated hopes of reaching up to 500,000 homes by the middle of 2014. The trial is similar to what Dish and Sprint are now proposing, leveraging Dish’s workforce for installations and nTelos’ 2.5 GHz spectrum.

“Results from the first phase of our trial were encouraging,” said James A. Hyde, CEO of NTELOS Holdings Corp, said in a statement. “Expanding the trial will give us the opportunity to stress test the network for coverage and reliability, and to further evaluate the viability of a full commercial launch.”

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