Anterix wants to be a private LTE powerhouse
Fresh off the FCC’s May 13 order making 6MHz of spectrum in the 900MHz band available for broadband technologies and services, Anterix is positioning itself to become a private LTE enabler for utility companies. The company, which holds about 60% of the 900MHz spectrum licenses in the top 20 markets in the US, is hoping to do for private LTE networks what Cellular One did for cellular networks back in the 1990s.
Cellular One was a brand that was formed in the late 1980s that was shared by many different independent cellular companies across the country. The Cellular One brand not only helped the independent wireless networks market their services to consumers but it also helped those operators get deals on equipment and devices. Rob Schwartz, CEO of Anterix, likes to compare Anterix’s business model to that of Cellular One because the company isn’t interested in building its own network but instead wants to lease its spectrum to potential customers and help them build their own networks.
“We aren’t building a network,” he said. “We want to help customers understand it and help them with their implementation.”
Educating industrial users
After five years of working with the FCC on the topic, the agency’s new ruling makes it possible for 900MHz licensees like Anterix to apply their spectrum toward LTE networks.
However, Schwartz said there is still a lot more work ahead. For one, utilities and other industrial users need to be educated on what this FCC decision means for them. And they also need to learn how to use LTE in the 900MHz band to build a robust network. “We are talking to federal regulators, utilities and potential industrial users about how to build and fund these networks,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz was elevated to CEO July 1. He succeeds Morgan O’Brien, who was elevated to the role of executive chairman of Anterix. Like O’Brien, Schwartz is a former Nextel executive, where he served as director of corporate development.
Although the 900MHz spectrum could be used for private networks for different types of industries, Anterix is focused on utilities because that industry already has networking experience. Utilities have been building their own communications networks for decades and using them for emergency response and meter reading as well as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA).
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