Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) has reached an agreement with Newport Utilities to build the rural utility industry’s first Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) network in Tennessee.
Sixty percent of school age children in the community Newport Utilities serves do not have high-speed Internet at home, and the project will bring high speed broadband to an underserved portion of the state.
Chris Calhoun, Broadband Manager for Newport Utilities, says: “This partnership helps close the gaps in terms of Internet access in underserved communities. We’re thrilled to partner with Ericsson to bring best-in-class fixed wireless to this region.”
Newport Utilities currently provides a fiber optic cable to home broadband customers and will use Ericsson FWA to augment this offering to serve areas difficult to reach with fiber. Fixed wireless access can be a more cost-effective and efficient alternative to providing broadband in areas with limited access to fixed broadband services such as DSL, cable or fiber. The FWA solution will leverage 3.5Ghz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum and Ericsson’s industry leading 64T64R Massive MIMO technology from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio to provide better coverage and capacity.
Rob Johnson, Head of Customer Unit Regional Carriers for Ericsson North America, says: “Fixed Wireless Access can be a solution in places where wired Internet is a challenge geographically. The project became not only a first in the utility industry, but a passion project for Ericsson to help connect the unconnected and close the homework gap.”
In addition to building the network, Ericsson will operate the network for the first year while providing transfer services to the Newport team so they can eventually take on the management of the FWA network. This investment by Newport Utilities will enable it to operate a first of its kind FWA network.