Pioneer Cellular, one of 13 participants in the Verizon Wireless LTE in Rural America program, has successfully completed end-to-end data testing over its new 4G LTE network in preparation for a commercial launch next spring for customers in central and western Oklahoma. The new Pioneer 4G LTE network will enable Pioneer and Verizon Wireless customers to enjoy high-speed data services within Pioneer's coverage area and provide Pioneer customers with access to Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE network throughout the United States.
Pioneer announced its participation in the LTE in Rural America program last December and during the past year has constructed cell towers, laid fiber optic cable, and installed network hardware and software, working closely with Verizon Wireless engineers. Pioneer is now testing its new network and trial devices for speed, reliability and ease of use.
Richard Ruhl, general manager of Pioneer, said, "Pioneer Cellular's participation in the Verizon Wireless LTE in Rural America program will benefit our wireless customers as well as Verizon Wireless' customers by accelerating the benefits of high-speed mobile broadband to rural areas where 4G LTE mobility is not available. Partnering with Verizon Wireless will help to ensure we are able to address the future needs of the rural communities we serve who have historically not been the first to benefit from technologies like 4G LTE."
Pioneer's 4G LTE network covers more than 260,000 people in 21 counties across nearly 17,000 miles of central and western Oklahoma.
Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless, yesterday sent a congratulatory email to Ruhl, which was delivered over Pioneer's 4G LTE network.
"This is an important milestone in our LTE in Rural America program because it demonstrates what can be accomplished by two companies with the common goal of empowering rural America," Mead said. "A robust wireless broadband infrastructure is vital for economic development in rural communities. We are committed to supporting our LTE in Rural America participants so they can bring wireless broadband to their communities as quickly as possible."
Verizon Wireless announced the LTE in Rural America initiative in June 2010 to bring the benefits of high-speed mobile broadband to rural areas of the United States where Verizon Wireless currently does not have a network. Under the program, Verizon Wireless shares access to its 700 MHz spectrum with rural operators who use their tower and backhaul assets to build a 4G LTE network.
To date, 13 rural carriers have leased spectrum covering, in total, 2.6 million people in rural communities and 85,000 square miles in 10 states.