Editor’s Note: Wireless operators are a busy bunch, and as such RCR Wireless News will attempt to gather some of the important announcements that may slip through the cracks from the world’s largest carriers in a weekly wrap-up. Enjoy!
–Regional telecommunications provider Ntelos Holdings announced plans for a limited commercial launch of fixed wireless broadband services in partnership with Dish Network covering portions of Roanoke, Staunton, Waynesboro and Charlottesville, Va. The commercial launch is expected to begin in early 2014 and reach up to 500,000 homes.
The offering, which was initially announced in June, uses LTE technology in the 2.5 GHz spectrum band to connect to outdoor routers. Those routers are linked using an Ethernet connection to a wireless router in a home to provide broadband Internet access.
Ntelos, which has a network partnership with Sprint, has said it remains on track to launch commercial LTE services across portions of its network during the second half of this year. The carrier had previously announced plans to have 70% of its potential customer base covered with LTE services by the end of 2014, with the network serving both its own customers as well as roaming customers from Sprint.
–The world’s largest wireless operator China Mobile said it added just over 15 million new customers during the third quarter, pushing its total customer base to more than 755 million subscribers. The Q3 growth was down slightly from the previous year when the carrier added 15.43 million net customers.
China Mobile’s most recent growth was on the back of its 3G network, which added 31.62 million net customers during the third quarter, indicating that its legacy 2G offering lost more than 16 million customers during the quarter. Some of that loss could also be due to the fact that China Mobile still does not officially offer Apple’s iPhone lineup, something that its rivals China Unicom and China Telecom both offer. At the end of the third quarter China Mobile counted 169.5 million customers using its TD-SCDMA-based 3G service.
Total voice usage, text messaging and data services running across its carrier-owned Wi-Fi service were down sequentially, while cellular-based data services continued to grow.
Operating revenues did increase sequentially to $26.3 billion, though profits dipped from $5.8 billion during the second quarter to $4.7 billion during the third quarter.
–U.S. Cellular and Boost Mobile were two of the latest mobile carriers to announce plans to offer Apple’s latest iPhone products beginning Nov. 8. The devices were launched by a handful of nationwide operators in late September, followed by a number of regional operators earlier this month.
For U.S. Cellular, the iPhone launch will be its initial foray into offering Apple’s product line after the carrier had initially passed on providing the subsidy-rich device to its customers. Another consideration for U.S. Cellular has been the lack of device support for its unique LTE deployment plans. While the carrier could have offered an iPhone running across its CDMA-based 3G network, something a number of regional carriers have decided to do, it appears to be more interested in waiting until its LTE network is more robust. U.S. Cellular’s current LTE deployment is running across its 850 MHz and lower 700 MHz spectrum holdings. The 850 MHz spectrum has been supported by previous iPhone models, though the lower 700 MHz spectrum, and more specifically Band Class 12, has so far and continues to not be embedded in the Apple product line. U.S. Cellular noted that the iPhone products will tap into its 850 MHz LTE deployments.
U.S. Cellular said it will offer both the latest iPhone 5S and 5C models as well as the legacy 4S model that will run across the carrier’s CDMA-based 3G network. Pricing for the devices has not yet been announced.
Boost, which is a subsidiary of Sprint, will offer the 5S and 5C to its no-contract lineup at a still to be announced price. The company did note that the devices will be offered with its monthly unlimited plans that also include monthly payment reductions if customers make payments on time over an extended period. Boost does not yet carry Apple products, though its stable-mate in Sprint’s prepaid barn Virgin Mobile USA does carry the Apple portfolio, including the latest 5S and 5C models.
Additional carrier news can be found on the RCR Wireless News “Carriers” page.
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