From a farmer in Missouri who now plants with greater precision and efficiency to a news producer in Iowa who shoots video remotely using a smartphone, 4G LTE networks are making a difference in rural America, as the Verizon Wireless LTE in Rural America (LRA) program continues to grow.
Ketchikan Public Utilities (KPU), in April, became the 18th participant in the program to launch its 4G LTE network when it went live in Ketchikan, Alaska, a major cruise ship port. KPU is the third rural LRA participant in Alaska to launch high-speed wireless broadband service; Matanuska Telephone Association and Copper Valley Telecom networks became operational last year. Bluegrass Cellular, one of the first LRA participants to launch its 4G LTE network, recently announced plans to expand its network to five additional counties in Kentucky. And, prospective participants continue to explore the program and negotiate contracts.
Verizon Wireless provides the largest 4G LTE network coverage in rural areas in the United States*. The LRA networks launched to date expand that coverage by more than 62,000 square miles, an area larger than the state of Georgia.
Started in 2010 to bring the benefits of high-speed mobile broadband to rural communities on a quicker timetable, the program currently has 21 participants. The 18 launched 4G LTE networks cover more than 2.2 million people.
Through the program, rural carriers lease 700 MHz Upper C block spectrum from Verizon Wireless and build and operate their own 4G LTE radio networks. Verizon Wireless has a dedicated team of engineers and support specialists, based in Arkansas, who work directly with program participants to provide technical assistance as they build their networks.
The rural networks extend the 4G LTE footprints for both Verizon Wireless customers and customers of companies participating in the LRA program. Those customers can roam on Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network throughout the U.S., as well as the networks of all the other rural participants. Verizon Wireless customers can roam on the rural companies’ networks.
* Based on square miles covered in counties with a population density less than 100 people per square mile.